Dáil Éireann - Volume 393 - 21 November, 1989

Written Answers. - Incidents of Pollution.

146. Mr. Taylor asked the Minister for the Environment the measures which are being taken by his Department to reduce the incidents of pollution in Irish offshore waters; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): It is a matter for individual local authorities, in the first instance, to ensure that discharges from land based sources of trade and sewage effluents to estuarine and coastal waters do not cause pollution. Trade effluent discharges may be made only under and in accordance with a licence issued under the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977. Where licences are granted, local authorities may attach conditions relating to the nature, composition, temperature, volume, rate, method of treatment and location of the discharge, the periods during which the discharge may or may not be made, and its effects on the receiving waters. Licences may be reviewed to ensure that the conditions set are adequate to protect waters. The Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Bill, 1989, includes provisions extending the circumstances in which licences may be reviewed so that all beneficial uses of waters can be protected [1049] and that any new data on the effects of pollutants can be taken into account.

As regards possible effects by sewage discharges, local authorities have been asked to examine their existing sewage disposal systems to ensure that they are operating effectively and are meeting their design standards for effluent discharges. The authorities have also been asked to identify areas affected by such discharges and to develop appropriate proposals to eliminate any pollution problems. Work is in progress at present to improve sewage disposal arrangements for Dún Laoghaire, Bray and Wicklow while proposals for a number of other coastal towns are at an advanced stage of planning. It is intended that investment in the provision of new and improved sewage treatment and disposal systems will be maintained at a high level.

I am satisfied that the quality of our estuarine and coastal waters is generally of a high standard and conditions are favourable for the passage of salmon and for the survival of resident fish populations. The report on the “Status of Current Knowledge on Anthropogenic Influences in the Irish Sea” published by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea found that there are no clear indications of adverse impacts in the coastal waters on this side of the Irish Sea due to non-radioactive contaminants apart from localised cases of excessive organic contamination.

Dumping of wastes at sea and controls on discharges from vessels are the responsibility of the Minister for the Marine.