By Sean O’Riordan
Despite millions of euro being spent on a state-of-the-art sewerage scheme a habour is still being polluted by visiting ships and yachts discharging waste.
Cork County Council has been urged to use the powers it has to prevent Kinsale harbour becoming clogged with raw sewage and oil discharges after concerns were raised by councillors that otherwise, it would have a very negative impact on tourism.
Cllr Kevin Murphy told a meeting of the Bandon/Kinsale municipal district council he is worried that visiting vessels are continuing to pollute the harbour after so much money has been spent on installing a new sewerage treatment scheme in the town.
In a written report, Kinsale Harbour Master Julian Renault said there are international, national and local laws and bylaws against discharges from vessels.
Under international and national maritime legislation vessels of more than 400 gross tonnage, or certified to carry more than 12 passengers, are prohibited from discharging into harbours.
In addition, under the Port and Harbour of Kinsale Bylaws 1961 ‘no vessel shall throw, cast or empty any kind of oil, acid, sewage, fish or foul offal or any other noxious fluid, or garbage of any kind whatsoever’ into the harbour.
Similar bylaws were enacted for all the county’s harbours by the county council in 2009.
According to the council’s Port Waste Management Plan 2016 - 2019, the Port of Kinsale can organise a road tanker to collect sewage from vessels, which has to be paid for by the vessel owners.
Mr Renault said he believes larger vessels are adhering to legislation, but smaller ones allow their waste to be pumped out into harbours.
Cllr Gillian Coughlan described the harbour as “Kinsale’s jewel in the crown” and said every effort has to be made to keep it pollution-free.
While using legislation to clamp down on offenders was suggested as the best deterrent, council officials also proposed the possibility of putting in a connection point which visiting vessels could use to pump waste into the town’s sewerage system. There are only two such installations in Ireland, both of which are available to vessels users on the River Shannon.
Mr Renault pointed out that the installation of a publicly-available ‘pump-out facility’ would require the provision of a floating marina, similar to the pontoon being installed in Schull. However, he added that the shallow depths in the harbour it would need to be dredged to allow larger vessels to access it at all tide levels.
Meanwhile, Cllr Murphy was shocked to learn it would cost €180,000 to remove an old fishing trawler which is lying next to the wall of the old Western Bridge at Tissaxon, Kinsale.
Surveyors told council officials that the figure will be higher if the vessel has any asbestos in it.
Under the Harbour Act of 1996 the vessel, which is now deemed as a wreck, could be dismantled by the county council and the costs recouped from the owner.
But Cllr Murphy was told by officials that is highly unlikely as its owner doesn’t have that kind of money, nor does the municipal district, for that matter.