Top Broadway producer fights to stop sewage threat to Irish waters featured in “Game of Thrones”

Article is by Paddy Clancy @IrishCentral claims to be the largest Irish site in North America.

Top Broadway producer John Gore seeks to stop sewage dumped into Lough Foyle. Image: Paddy Clancy.

Top Broadway producer John Gore seeks to stop sewage dumped into Lough Foyle. Image: Paddy Clancy.

A top Broadway producer has joined a 30-year campaign to stop sewage pouring into the Irish waters over which the dragons fly in the TV series “Game of Thrones.”

John Gore, the owner of multi-billion dollar, the largest live entertainment company on the planet, is fuming at plans by Irish Water to construct a sewage treatment plant near his shore-side Irish holiday home and pipe the contents out into Lough Foyle.

Local residents in the Community for a Clean Estuary have been campaigning to get the scheme transferred a few kilometers north so the effluent can be piped into the Atlantic and away from Lough Foyle which is bordered by Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Irish Water says it will apply this year for permission to start the scheme on the Republic’s side at Carnagarve, outside Moville, Co. Donegal.

Carnagarve is an area of outstanding beauty, with about a dozen small beaches with pristine bathing conditions along four kilometers linked by a shoreside walk that runs between Moville and Greencastle.

Glenburnie beach adjacant to proposed sewerage discharge pipe location.

Glenburnie beach adjacant to proposed sewerage discharge pipe location.

Gore, who has been visiting the area for 15 years, recently bought a period house on land running to the water’s edge which he has been renovating as a holiday home.

He loves the beauty of the area, not far from Malin Head where part of Star Wars was filmed.

Across the Lough in Northern Ireland, he can see the site from which dragons flew in Game of Thrones.

Campaigners in the Republic insist that Irish Water should retain a scheme first approved by the local council in 1990 to construct the sewage plant on land near Greencastle with a discharge pipe running out to the Atlantic. The plan was, somehow, later changed. Officials opted instead to have a pipe discharging the sewage directly into Lough Foyle less than 300 meters from the shore.

Gore, whose Broadway stage productions won several Tony awards, says he is prepared to put millions of dollars of his own money into any litigation involved in saving the Lough from pollution.

He said: “If the Irish Water scheme goes ahead can you imagine what the smell would be like? Can you imagine what it would do to all those beaches? It would never be allowed anywhere else.

“Somehow, in 1990, the elected members of Donegal County Council voted unanimously for the scheme not to be in the Lough, but for it to be out at sea. We don’t see where the legal precedent is that enables that ruling to be changed, apart from the fact they kind of shoved it around.

“There seems to be no record that the council reversed the decision or changed it.”

Irish Water, created in 2013, has taken over all water and sewage facilities from local authorities which previously cared for them all around Ireland.

Gore added: “The way they are behaving here is outrageous. My holiday home is going to be seriously damaged by this situation.”

Campaigners John Gore, Dr Don McGinley and Enda Craig at the site where the outfall will carry sewage into Lough Foyle behind them. Image: Paddy Clancy.

Campaigners John Gore, Dr Don McGinley and Enda Craig at the site where the outfall will carry sewage into Lough Foyle behind them. Image: Paddy Clancy.

Local campaigners brought their objections as far as the European Commission, the legislation-proposing arm of the European Union.

Now that Gore has joined the campaign, he is prepared to back the process of preventing sewage going into Lough Foyle “with millions if necessary.”

Locally-based Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said after a recent information meeting that Irish Water was proposing the same controversial scheme that attracted community opposition for 30 years. “The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different outcome”, he said.

One of the campaign leaders, Enda Craig, reckons the original council decision in 1990 to operate a discharge pipe from Greencastle into the sea instead of the Lough, was overturned when parties with vested interests resorted to “uncalled for and unwanted political interference.”

Since then there was a series of studies and proposed news sites, as well as conflicts between campaigners and council officials in the courts and in the EU.

On one occasion the campaigners were advised by a top oceanographer in Singapore that a hydrodynamics study of the tidal flows by the council was inaccurate. Local fishermen gave similar advice.

Craig agreed there was a tremendous problem with raw sewage going into the Lough and Bredagh River from existing outlets in Moville, and demand for the location of a treatment plant was understandable, but the beautiful Carnagarve area was the wrong place for it.

Campaign committee member Don McGinley, a retired family doctor, who is a keen rower, said: “Lough Foyle is a recreational area for swimmers, rowers, kayakers, sailors and jet-skiers. It is not in the least desirable that the proposed discharge pipe lies directly on our training routes midway between Moville and Greencastle, adjacent to the traditional beach at Glenburnie and the Sli a Slainte designated coastal path.”

The proposed scheme is also close to the holiday home of one of Ireland’s greatest peace campaigners, John Hume, who was jointly awarded the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize.

One of Ireland’s greatest peace campaigners, John Hume, also lives in the area. Image:

One of Ireland’s greatest peace campaigners, John Hume, also lives in the area. Image:

Irish Water said it is lodging a planning application this year to develop a wastewater treatment plant at Carnagarve. It envisages planning, design and construction will take four years.

It added that the outfall pipeline will safely discharge the treated effluent 200 to 300 meters out into Lough Foyle.

Campaigners plan to seek a meeting with Irish Water chiefs and persuade them to return to the 1990 scheme.

Craig said if that fails they plan to raise a challenge on the ownership of the seabed. He claims Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Estate owns the seabed from the Northern Ireland side right up to the shore in Donegal.

He says the Irish authorities wrongly claim the seabed on the Donegal side is owned by the Agriculture Minister.

If talks fail, the campaign will register an injunction against Irish Water to produce evidence of ownership of the seabed.

A spokesperson for Crown Estate said in a statement that the exact location for the international boundary between Northern Ireland and the Republic remains an issue for determination between the UK and Irish governments.

The statement said that the Crown Estate has worked with relevant stakeholders, including the cross-border Loughs Agency, to help inform discussions about this issue.

It added: “Any planning decision regarding the Irish Water project would not be a matter for the Crown Estate, but would rest with the relevant planning and marine licensing authorities”


Greencastle Residents dispute Donegal's HSE drinking water test

Residents in Greencastle are questioning the integrity of recent tests result received from the HSE, Donegal, which were carried out on drinking water in the area. The tests were done on 18th January 2017 by the Public Analysis Laboratory, Galway from samples taken on 16th January. 

Residents are not happy with the thoroughness of the tests, the method and scope of sampling and the chemical parameters that were tested.  For example there is no mention THMs (trihalomethanes), a chemical compound that the residents were particularly worried about and many other chemicals used in drinking water treatment plants.

Ballymacarthur water treatment plant Greencastle Co Donegal.  At the rear there are 3 small sand filter beds. 

Ballymacarthur water treatment plant Greencastle Co Donegal.  At the rear there are 3 small sand filter beds. 

Greencastle and Ballymacarthur treatment plant marked in red

click to view test

This water test came about after a year long campaign by residents over high levels of THMs (thrihalomethances) in drinking water from the Ballymacarthur water treatment plant in the Greencastle area. Residents were alerted to problems in drinking water by an EPA report which stated that 10 water treatment plants in Donegal exceeded THMs limits.

The most recent EPA Remedial Action List , 2016, lists Greencastle as having a total of 203ug/l THMs, the highest in Donegal.  See EPA RAL 2016 (remedial action list)  here

EPA records prior to 2012 also identified exceedance levels of THMs in the Greencastle water and they submitted an remedial action plan in 2011 with a completion date of September 2013 recommended.

This data was taken form   EPA Report for Year 2011

This data was taken form EPA Report for Year 2011

Residents cancer survey

Recently a small survey of incidences of cancers was undertaken by residents in one area of Greencastle.  It found that in one residential area alone where 16 families live, there were 10 known cases of cancer.  Some of these people have died while others are currently receiving treatment.  One local resident, who does not wish to be named said

“We want to know if there is a link between the high levels of THMs in our water supply and the very high rate of cancers in Greencastle.  Surely more in depth studies on this relationship should be undertaken.  We are so worried and need to be assured that chemicals used for treating our water supply is not damaging our health.  We need regular monitoring and tests carried out in a transparent way and they need to be ongoing .  Remedial action must be done immediately.

Lough Fad supplies Moville and Redcastle area.  Photo show low level of water.

A year ago we approached our local council but nothing has been done and our plant remains open. We want this plant which is exceeding THMs limits closed with immediate effect and the correct infrastructure put in place to ensure that our community has clean and safe drinking water.

Water testing was carried out here in recent weeks but we are suspicious the way in which they were done.   At the time of the test, water was being pumped in advance from Lough Fad to deliberately dilute the concentration of Thms further down towards Greencastle.  As predicted, the results from the HSE were within the normal range.

This photograph of Lough Fad taken earlier this week shows water levels at an all time low. It is obvious that the reservoir cannot sustain the Greencastle supply in addition to its normal supply and as a result will have to stop pumping to Greencastle. This means that the level of THMs will return to the EPA’s stated dangerously high levels.”


Helen Clarke a concerned resident said that they have sent an email to Irish Water pointing out that remedial action is long overdue.  Residents feel that they must be kept informed about any new planned infrastructure, when this will take place, what it entails, when will work be tendered out and the timescale involved.  They want to know what solutions will be put in place while the remedial work is done.   They call on all Councillors, TDs and Senators, to take a proactive interest in this serious health issue and support the Greencastle community in finding an urgent solution.


Mr Enda Craig, a local Moville environmentalist,  who has been highlighting this issue for some time, said that when he was made aware of the test results he contacted the Environmental Health Officer in Buncrana and asked.

"why the water analysis did not contain any mention of tests for Trihalomethane's, (THMs) .  I was told that the tests had been taken at a different location.

The question immediately arises why?  Surely the THM test should have been carried out on the water sample taken in St Paul's park.  Or could it be the HSE wanted to test a water sample at a different location which would be known to contain a substantial percentage of THM compliant Redcastle water which come from Lough Fad.

Click image to enlarge

Why was there no mention of Fluoride in the results from water samples taken in St Paul's park?   If, as Irish Water states, that twenty five per cent of Redcastle water ( which contains Fluoride) is now mixed with the Ballymacarthur supplied water then how come no Fluoride was detected in St Paul's park.

Could it be that the Redcastle water does not get as far as St Paul's park in the first place and that the statement from Irish Water is a hoodwink,  to say the very least. Every way you look at this water testing escapade there is an overwhelming need for further detailed answers. It would never be possible that the HSE has been gambling with people's health in an attempt to cover the fact that the promised infrastructure from Irish Water is already way  behind schedule. Either way let's have some upfront straight answers."


Short history of T rihalomethane/Chlorine in Ireland water treatment

Between 2002 and 2009Ireland was condemned on a number of occasions by the European court of Justice for it’s high levels of E-coli and Cryptosporidium caused by faecal contamination.  Both conditions manifest as a serious form of gastro-intestinal illness in humans that can be fatal.

This European intervention resulted in Ireland introducing chlorine to disinfect the water supply, a cost cutting measure which treated the symptoms rather than the cause.  Ireland was advised against this measure by Europe but ignored the advise.

Chlorine is known to react with organic matter including bog water, faeces, dead animals and can produce trihalomethane (THMs), a known cause of cancer.  Long-term exposure is reported to carry increased risks of cancers, including bladder and colon cancer and can cause damage to the heart, lungs, liver, kidney and the central nervous system. While chlorine suppresses the e-coli bug, it has little effect on Cryptosporidium.  Now the European Commission has confirmed that it will be taking proceedings against Ireland to address the ongoing concerns of THMs in drinking water.



Should drinking water carry a warning 'Contains dangerous chemicals - May damage your health'

By Enda Graig

Smoking causes cancer

Cigarettes contain chemicals which, when inhaled in small doses, on a continual basis over an extended period of time dramatically increases your potential of developing life threatening cancer. This is now an accepted medical fact which our Government insists is displayed, in capital letters, on all for sale cigarette packaging. You are given a severe warning concerning the inherent dangers - the rest is up to you.


Trihalomethanes (THMS) causes cancer

Drinking water, which contains THMs, when either ingested or inhaled through steam in small doses on a continual basis over an extended period of time will dramatically increase your potential of developing cancer and other health problems.  There is a large body of high-level medical research which now believes this to be true. 

This has been happening in the drinking water supplies in seventeen treatment plants throughout Donegal.  Greencastle displays the highest reading of THMs of them all in a water analysis test taken in August 2015. 

Irish Water and indeed the HSE would have you believe the threat of these chemicals is inconclusive.  However, what they don't tell you is that there are recommended limits and these limits have been and continue to be exceeded.  In the case of Greencastle it is twice the recommended limit.  

Neither Irish Water or the HSE issue any warnings to the public.  They categorically refuse stating that trihalomethane exceedance is not a significant health hazard.  Unsuspecting public, including the able-bodied, the feeble, children and infants are all consuming the contaminated water. 

Daily Mail, March2, 2016

Daily Mail, March2, 2016

Similar incident, different response

The response to a similar contamination in Derbyshire, England in March this year was in marked contrast when Severn Trent Water contacted customers to warn them not to drink the tap water due to excess chlorination in the reservoir. 

See Daily Mail March 12, 2016 "Hundreds of families still without water a day after chlorine contamination triggered warning to thousands not to drink from taps"

"More than 200 homes in Derbyshire and Leicestershire are still without water a day after locals were warned not to drink, bathe of 'wash their toilets' with it.
Severn Trent Water warned as many as 3,700 customers across the counties not to use their tap water because higher than normal chlorine levels were detected in a reservoir.
It announced today that the 'majority of customers' are now able to use water as normal but 227 properties are still at risk.
Severn Trent said in a statement: 'As our network gets back to normal there may be times when your water supply is interrupted or you have discoloured water. "


Rathmullan Doctor's warning in DonegalDaily

Please read Dr John Carnie's ( Consultant Anesthetist ) article on Rathmullans drinking water supply, in DonegalDaily, Nov 20, 2014


"The retired anaesthetist claims that along with many other homes in Rathmullan, he has been in receipt of hazardous water since 2009 and no remedial action has been undertaken in the last five years.

The main complaint refers to the presence of THMs (Trihalomethanes) in drinking water in the area. Meanwhile the EU Commission says the elimination of all THMs remains a priority for the EPA."