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Sunday 19 January 2020

Irish Water fined €1.5k after sewage spilled into marina

Malahide marina was polluted following a malfunction. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Malahide marina was polluted following a malfunction. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Malahide marina was poll- uted with enough untreated sewage to fill two-and-a-half Olympic-size swimming pools following a water treatment malfunction, a court has heard.

Irish Water pleaded guilty to offences under the Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations 2007 at Strand Road, Malahide, over the weekend of April 28 last year.

The case was brought by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and came before Judge Anthony Halpin at Dublin District Court yesterday.

Irish Water admitted it did not take corrective actions or notify the EPA about the incident as soon as practicable.

Overflowed

EPA inspector Brendan Kissane told Judge Halpin the plant was manned full-time Monday to Friday and used three pumps: a standby pump, a duty pump and an assist pump.

One of them was removed, and four days later the other two pumps failed, on April 28.

As a result, sewage did not get treated but went into two tanks which overflowed and the sewage ran into the marina.

The treatment facility was inspected, but the pump failure problem was not detected.

It was noticed the next day, but Irish Water could not get assistance to fix the pumps.

It carried on until the next morning when a temporary pump was installed.

Judge Halpin heard it was estimated that 6,700 cubic metres of sewage went into the marina over a 43-hour period.

An alarm had gone off, but an employee who inspected the facility over the weekend thought the "pumps looked right" and did not detect there was no flow into the treatment plant.

Aerial photos of the pollution in the marina were handed in to court.

Sampling by Fingal County Council, on behalf of Irish Water, found 4mgs of mould per litre in the marina's water two days later.

The sewage pollution caused possible interference with amenities, but the untreated water would have been discharged out into the Irish Sea.

The EPA inspector agreed with defence counsel Eoghan Cole that it did not result in a fish kill.

Irish Water took over the facility from Fingal County Council in 2014, but the council still operated the plant under contract from Irish Water.

The inspector agreed that a staff member made an erroneous decision on the Saturday that intervention was not needed.

The problem was detected the following day and fixed on the Monday. The inspector also accepted that Irish Water now had a spare pump on site.

Judge Halpin convicted Irish Water and fined the company €1,500.

He ordered it to pay €850 to the EPA and a further €5,000 towards legal costs.

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