Coun­cil fined for ‘gross con­tam­i­na­tion’ of Vartry

DISTRICT COURT LO­CAL AU­THOR­ITY AC­CEPTS RE­SPON­SI­BIL­ITY

Bray People - - Colm Lambert -

WICK­LOW County Coun­cil was fined €500 af­ter they were con­victed of pol­lut­ing the River Vartry at Ash­ford last May.

At Wick­low District Court last week Wick­low County Coun­cil pleaded guilty to the charge and Brian Beck­ett with the East­ern Re­gional Fish­ery Board said that af­ter re­ceiv­ing a call from a mem­ber of the pub­lic about ‘grossly pol­luted ma­te­rial’ flow­ing into the River Vartry he vis­ited the area.

He ar­rived on site at 5 p.m. on May 5, 2008, an hour af­ter the call, and found ‘gross con­tam­i­na­tion of the River Vartry’ up­stream of the waste wa­ter treat­ment plant. He fol­lowed the dis­charge and found a large vol­ume of con­tam­i­nants leav­ing the plant and flow­ing into the river. He took sev­eral sam­ples and con­tacted Ve­o­lia Wa­ter who op­er­ated the plant on be­half of Wick­low County Coun­cil.

Ve­o­lia Wa­ter was un­sure how the mat­ter, which was par­tially treated sewage ef­flu­ent, had got­ten into the river.

‘Who’s fault is this’ asked Judge Mur­rough Con­nel­lan. ‘Is it the Gov­ern­ment for not pro­vid­ing enough money or the County Coun­cil for not pro­vid­ing enough treat­ment cen­tres?’

Mr. Beck­ett said the treat­ment plant was op­er­at­ing at 160 per cent ca­pac­ity on the day in ques­tion.

Act­ing for Wick­low County Coun­cil Mr. Mun­nelly said a new state of the art plant had been built and was wait­ing com­mis­sion­ing. How­ever, he said it would not be up and run­ning un­til Septem­ber.

Mr. Mun­nelly said that in times of very high ca­pac­ity at the plant a pump­ing sys­tem should be ac­ti­vated to pump the ex­tra ef­flu­ent to pre­vent a sludge blan­ket form­ing in the tanks. How­ever, this had occurred dur­ing a Bank Hol­i­day week­end and the sys­tem wasn’t ac­ti­vated but he ad­mit­ted that the prob­lem could have been avoided.

He said the mat­ter was sorted out shortly af­ter it was brought to the at­ten­tion of Ve­o­lia Wa­ter.

Mr. Beck­ett said that as a re­sult of the in­ci­dent sludge had blan­keted the river bed un­til the next flood and said there were spawn­ing beds in the area but that it wasn’t spawn­ing sea­son.

Mr. Mun­nelly said that the con­trol of the fa­cil­ity lay with Ve­o­lia and the County Coun­cil couldn’t deal with the pol­lu­tion but said they were tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the mat­ter as they had con­tracted the op­er­a­tion out to Ve­o­lia.

‘This is the sec­ond time the County Coun­cil is tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for a con­trac­tor,’ said Judge Con­nel­lan fin­ing Wick­low County Coun­cil €500 plus costs of €3,908.62.

‘It seems rel­a­tively easy to avoid this type of sit­u­a­tion’, he said say­ing he was de­lighted to see that no spawn­ing beds were dam­aged.

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