Louth faces environmental threats – Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has called for urgent action from the government to “end the environmental and health threat that faces thousands of citizens in Louth at risk from the discharge of raw sewage and the non-compliance of EU regulations in the treatment of urban waste water”.

Teachta Adams said:

“The recently published Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2017 report by the Environmental Protection Agency makes depressing reading.

The government and Irish Water are failing to meet their commitments on investment in water treatment. 13 years after the final deadline to meet treatment standards there are still 28 towns and cities in this state, one of which is Omeath, discharging inadequately treated sewage. The EPA warned that this is “putting our health at risk and is having an impact on our rivers, lakes and coastal waters.” This amounts to raw sewage from the equivalent of 88,000 people in 38 towns and villages flowing into the environment.

According to the EPA report there are 132 urban areas where improvements are needed to resolve environmental priorities. Seven of these are in Louth at Ardee, Blackrock, Castlebellingham, Dundalk, Dunleer, Omeath and Tallanstown.

In addition, there are 28 large urban areas that have failed to meet the EU’s legally binding standards for the treatment of urban waste water. Ardee and Blackrock failed the secondary treatment requirements, while Dundalk failed the more stringent treatment requirements.

The EPA also identified 57 areas across the state where waste water discharges are the sole significant pressure on water bodies at risk of pollution and not meeting their environmental objectives. Five such areas are impacted in Louth. These are Inner Dundalk Bay, Gldye, Castletown Estuary, White at Dunleer and the Glyde at Tallanstown.

The fact is that the government’s short and long term strategies for providing a safe environment and clean water is failing to deliver for many citizens.

More resources are urgently needed to target those areas which are currently not meeting basic environmental standards.

Progress requires increased investment in and delivery of major capital infrastructure. There also needs to be a substantial improvement in how the existing treatment systems are managed and maintained. This is a government that must do better for the people of Louth and of the state.”

Deputy Munster Dismayed over Disregard for Environment

imelda photo orangeLouth Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster has expressed her dismay at Irish Water’s total disregard for the environment following the successful prosecution of the company by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Irish Water were prosecuted for failing to ensure sewage waste from a water treatment plant at Tinure did not cause pollution.

The fine imposed was to the value of €2,000 but Irish Water were given the option to donate this money to charity in order to avoid a criminal conviction.

Deputy Munster said she was “disillusioned as to why Irish Water appears to get away with causing pollution on a regular basis”.

“This isn’t the first instance of pollution by Irish Water. In the past eighteen months there have been two other incidents similar to this in Monaghan and Cavan, which saw Irish Water fined. These are only the incidents that we are aware of. It’s also worth noting that the company has only been fined €3,500 combined, despite the fact that each case could carry a maximum fine of €5,000.”

“There have also been calls on many occasions to investigate other areas, such as claimed sewage discharge in Doldrum Bay, Howth. Although the prosecutions have been welcomed, the EPA must go further in ensuring our waters remain pollution free. Repeat offenders must be actively discouraged from polluting and I feel that a combined fine of €3,500 does not have that effect on a company which is willing to spend another €88 million on meters which have the potential to become obsolete.”

“I will be raising the issue with the minister via parliamentary questions. I want to know what measures, if any, have been put in place to prevent incidents like these occurring in the future; how stringent these measures are; and have there been other allegations of pollution, and if so, have they been followed up?”

Deputy Munster pointed out that “if pollution was being carried out by a local farmer or business, the courts would be quick to deter them from committing such crimes again. It is baffling how Irish Water is continually punished with a slight slap on the wrist.”