Thursday 19 July 2018

Tolka fish kill may have been washing-up spill

Dead fish in the Tolka River at Griffith Park on Dublin's northside. Photo: Collins
Dead fish in the Tolka River at Griffith Park on Dublin's northside. Photo: Collins

A WASHING-UP liquid manufacturer has revealed it may be responsible for the pollution in the River Tolka which killed thousands of fish.

Alma Hygiene said that there was an accident at its plant in Cabra last Tuesday, which resulted in a spillage of about 1,000 litres of washing-up liquid into its drainage system.

However, the company said that it has no evidence yet to suggest the liquid ended up in the Tolka. But it felt compelled to alert the city council and Inland Fisheries Ireland to the incident.


The operations manager for the company, which makes detergents and disinfectants, Chris McGrath said: "We did instigate the call, and the council and Inland Fisheries called out on Wednesday."

Mr McGrath said: "They took samples and it's a waiting game. We are in business almost 25 years and we handle almost 2m litres of chemicals and detergents a year. This is the first time we have had an accident."

Workers arrived last Tuesday to find that some pipes had burst and non-toxic washing-up liquid had spilled into its drainage system after an operations fault. A machine that should have been switched off the previous evening had been left on, it was reported in a Sunday newspaper.

The company believed they could control it, but contacted the council after reports of white foam along a 2km stretch of the Tolka River, close to the National Botanic Gardens.

Mr McGrath said that the company was working closely with the council. "We don't know if we were at fault," he said.

A meeting was held with the company directors, and precautionary measures had been put in place to ensure all machines were switched off at 5.45pm so there was no repeat of the accident.

The Herald reported how a stretch of the northside river was contaminated, stretching from the Finglas Road to the sea, with investigations launched by the Environmental Protection Agency, Dublin City Council and Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

Workers arrived at the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin to find foam on a large section of the river and fish jumping out of the water in distress,

The park's foreman Brian Furlong said that when he arrived, it looked like there had been a "huge snowfall" down by the river. The foam was floating in the air.


Mr Furlong said that he feared that it would take time for the stocks to recover.

The river had been repopulated with trout and salmon, and fish weighing up to 3lb were among those killed.

Brian Beckett, the director of Inland Fisheries, said that the number of fish killed was in "the thousands".

Ciaran Cuffe, a councillor for the Green Party said: "Earlier this year, we were celebrating the return of spawning salmon to the river after a 100 year absence."

Meanwhile, FG councillor Noel Rock revealed that he had been "inundated" with phone calls from horrified residents.


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