July 17, 2024

Failure to inform public about major pollution spillage into Nore ‘unacceptable’

A KILKENNY councillor has called for an early warning system to be installed on pumping stations in the wake of a serious pollution spillage on the River Nore last summer.

Yesterday it emerged that between 1,000 to 2,000 cubic metres of raw sewage was pumped into the Nore after a serious leak at the Maudlin Street pumping station between July 1 and July 2 last year.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has reportedly instructed Irish Water to survey water quality in the Nore this summer to investigate if the leak has had any lasting impact on the surrounding protected habitat.

Green Party councillor Malcolm Noonan today said the incident has highlighted “serious deficiencies” in the alarm system. He has called for a “comprehensive and integrated overflow early warning system” to be installed on pumping stations in Kilkenny.

Cllr Noonan told KilkennyNow.ie: ‘This was a very serious spillage into the River Nore, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive. It took place at a time when the river was at a historic low due to the dry, warm summer and at a time when recreational users of the river should have been notified immediately that the river was unsafe for people and animals.”

Cllr Noonan, who is also his party’s spokesperson on local government reform, criticised Kilkenny County Council and Irish Water for failing “to notify respective agencies and the general public in a timely manner” following the incident.

At the April meeting of Kilkenny County Council, Cllr Noonan questioned why agencies such as the NPWS were not notified for a number of days after the spillage, which he said was caused by “a build-up of material such as baby wipes” in the system.

Cllr Noonan added: “Often referred to as ‘fatbergs’, the inappropriate dumping of materials and waste oils down toilets and foul sewers is becoming a big problem for water authorities globally. This is not the fault of the council or Irish Water, it is however unacceptable that public bodies were not notified in a timely manner and that a press statement on the issue and how it was to be remedied was not issued immediately following the incident.”

He said the local authority and Irish Water should have “a far more rigorous regime” of reporting in place, both to agencies and the general public.

“I find it astonishing that Irish Water are not obliged by law to inform the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) following an incident of this nature. It is simply unacceptable that we do not inform all stakeholders in a timely manner,” Cllr Noonan added.

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