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Wednesday 21 August 2019

Beaches a no-go area as rain causes new waste overflow

Swimmers at the Forty Foot. Photo: INM
Swimmers at the Forty Foot. Photo: INM

Much of Dublin Bay has been declared a no-go area for swimmers for the fourth time this summer after heavy rain caused an overflow of wastewater from the city's treatment plant.

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council yesterday advised swimmers to avoid going into the water at five popular south Dublin beaches - Seapoint, Sandycove, the Forty Foot, Killiney and Whiterock - until at least 6pm today.

Dollymount beach was added to Dublin City Council's list of 'no bathing zones' yesterday, while seasonal bans are already in place at Merrion and Sandymount beaches due to concerns over bacterial levels in the water.

The latest beach closure notices come after Dublin City Council yesterday announced there had been "a significant overflow from the storm storage tanks at the Ringsend Wastewater treatment plant into the River Liffey during the early hours of [the] morning".

"This was as a result of adverse weather conditions and significant rainfall over the Dublin area last night."

The council is liaising with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the HSE, and will continue to monitor water quality, it said in a statement.

The council also apologised to beach-goers, saying it "regrets this weather-based event and will lift the prohibition notices as soon as the water quality results are at the required standard, in consultation with the EPA and the HSE".

Poisoned

But local residents and swimmers said the apology is not enough.

"The whole bay is poisoned and polluted," said Damien Cassidy, chair of the Ringsend, Irishtown and Sandymount Environment Group.

He is planning to petition the European Parliament to shut down the treatment plant, which he claims is continuing to spew toxic pollution into the sea.

"The idea the whole bay is now polluted and we've been ordered not to swim in it is crazy," he said.

Irish Water has maintained that the treatment facility is unable to cope with Dublin's growing population and is currently in the midst of a €400m upgrade.

Meanwhile, more rain, possibly heavy, thundery bursts, is forecast for this weekend, which may escalate further overflows.

Dublin can expect more persistent rain today and tonight but a gradual clearing as the day progresses.

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