Wednesday, 4th May 2016
Irish Water convicted on pollution charges
At a sitting of Cavan District Court on 21st April 2016, Judge Denis McLaughlin convicted Irish Water in relation to a pollution incident arising from the wastewater treatment plant at Ballinagh, Co. Cavan.
Senior fisheries environmental officer Ailish Keane from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) gave evidence that she had written to Irish Water on several occasions prior to the incident about failings at the treatment plant, but the company had not acted. On 20th June 2015, IFI staff noticed effluent entering the Ballinagh River and Ms Keane attended the scene and took samples. The samples showed very serious pollution of the river coming from the treatment plant, with levels of some pollutants almost 600 times higher than upstream.
In particular, the level of ammonia observed downstream was 17.9 milligrams per litre – 597 times the level of 0.03 milligrams per litre measured upstream, a level recognised as clean salmonid water. The level of suspended solids was 122 milligrams per litre, approximately 3.5 times higher than the plant’s allowed emission limit. The biological oxygen demand, a measure of bacterial growth in the water, was measured at 223.8 milligrams per litre downstream which is 45 times higher than what is expected in clean unpolluted water, and over 100 times higher than the level of two milligrams per litre observed upstream.
Judge Denis McLaughlin refused to consider a plea by defence counsel to consider a donation to charity, insisting that the delay in rectifying the issue by Irish Water, and the serious level of pollution, merited a conviction. He convicted and fined the company €2,500 in addition to costs amounting to €3,917.43.
Commenting on the case, Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland, said: “Protection of fish stocks and water quality is vital to maintaining an extremely valuable natural resource for the benefit of local and tourist anglers alike. Inland Fisheries Ireland is committed to protecting the most vital component of good habitat to fish – high water quality. Our staff will continue to monitor and enforce water quality legislation in order to maintain healthy fish stocks.”
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has a confidential hotline number to enable members of the general public to report incidents - 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24. This phone line is designed to encourage the reporting of incidents of illegal fishing, water pollution and invasive species.
Head of Business Development
Inland Fisheries Ireland
Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
Tel: 052 6180055 Fax: 052 6123971
Note for Editors:
Inland Fisheries Ireland is a statutory body operating under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and was established under the Fisheries Act on 1st July 2010. Its principal function is the protection and conservation of the inland fisheries resource. IFI will promote, support, facilitate and advise the Minister on, the conservation, protection, management, development and improvement of inland fisheries, including sea angling and develop and advise the Minister on policy and national strategies relating to inland fisheries and sea angling.