EPA investigating Ringsend sludge release

Published by Niall Sargent on

The EPA has confirmed that it is investigating the release of wastewater sludge from Ringsend treatment plant that occurred this weekend.

Inspectors from the environmental watchdog are carrying out a site inspection to determine the cause of the incident and to monitor the discharge.

On 25 February 2019, Irish Water informed the EPA of the release of the sludge into the Lower Liffey Estuary.  The release commenced on the morning of Saturday 23rd February.

The agency said that its priority is to ensure that Irish Water completes the “corrective actions” needed to bring the discharge under control and to protect the Lower Liffey Estuary.

Irish Water confirmed yesterday that there was a failure at one of the plant’s tanks on Saturday morning that caused a “discharge of activated sludge” into the estuary via an outfall 1km from the plant.

The discharge occurred for around 20 minutes and it is estimated to have released 100 cubic metres of activated sludge, which Irish Water said does not pose the same risk to public health or the environment as a raw sewage discharge would.

“Irish Water has standard protocols in place when incidents of this nature occur and incidents are escalated on the basis of the potential impact to human health and the environment. Statutory stakeholders are notified in line with protocols and we can confirm that the EPA carried out an audit of the site,” the company said.

Currently, the plant treats around 40 per cent of the country’s wastewater load a €400 million being invested in upgrading the facility to increase capacity to handle Dublin’s growing population.

“Due to ongoing overloading of the wastewater treatment plant, the discharge from the treatment plant does not comply with the Urban Wastewater Treatment requirements as the treated effluent discharging from the plant has higher amount of solids than is optimal and this could give rise to a coloured plume in the water,” Irish Water said.

Green Party councillor Claire Byrne called for Irish Water to “come clean” on any long-term issues with the Ringsend plant as another similar incident took place in October 2017 during Storm Brian

“The company is constantly reassuring local representatives that the plant is working well when the reality is clearly different,” she said.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London