More than 5,100km of asbestos water pipes in Ireland

More than 5,100km of asbestos water pipes in Ireland

There are more than 5,100 kilometres of asbestos water pipes in Ireland.

The substance can cause cancer if inhaled, but Irish Water denies that is the case if you consume it through drinking-water.

Asbestos cement was commonly used to build truck mains from the 1950s to the 1980s, but it has not been used for that purpose in Ireland since that period.

But according to details released under the Freedom of Information, there are still 5,122 kilometres of asbestos cement water mains throughout Ireland.

22% of it is in Cork, which is nearly double the amount in greater Dublin.

Other counties with significant amounts are Donegal, Tipperary and Kerry.

Irish Water was unable to say how many of the pipes had burst in recent years.

But Jack O’Sullivan, an environmental scientist, is calling for the utility to make sure they are in good order.

“Those asbestos pipes, to my understanding, would be between 50 and 70 years old,” he said.

“And that’s a long age.”

Mr O’Sullivan said that the “most important thing” Irish Water should do is to “carry out a risk assessment of the structural integrity of those pipes”.

But Irish Water denies asbestos water mains are harmful to people’s health.

It points out the World Health Organisation says asbestos can cause cancer if inhaled – but not if ingested through drinking-water.

More on this topic

Formal complaint over high level of chemical contamination in Irish waterFormal complaint over high level of chemical contamination in Irish water

Excess levels of chlorine pumped into Dingle reservoirExcess levels of chlorine pumped into Dingle reservoir

Staff at Irish Water threatened with machete and rocks by publicStaff at Irish Water threatened with machete and rocks by public

Pesticides still being detected in Cork water suppliesPesticides still being detected in Cork water supplies


More in this Section

Dozens of parishioners attend drive-in church service in AntrimDozens of parishioners attend drive-in church service in Antrim

Two arrested after €23k of prescription drugs seized in WaterfordTwo arrested after €23k of prescription drugs seized in Waterford

'We need continuity at this time' - Ciaran Cuffe against change of Green Party leader'We need continuity at this time' - Ciaran Cuffe against change of Green Party leader

HSE gets reassurances late filing of Covid-19 data by hospitals has not been repeatedHSE gets reassurances late filing of Covid-19 data by hospitals has not been repeated


Lifestyle

Last week, I wrote about 'small is beautiful' as a key to an improved environment for all living things after this Covid crisis is finally over. As I wrote, I saw, in the mind's eye, the village where I live in west Cork and from which my wife and I are temporarily exiled.Damien Enright: Community spirit can ensure we pull through - together

Fifty years ago, a fox was spotted in Dublin’s St. Stephen’s Green. The unfortunate animal was chased by local ‘gurriers’. It took refuge in a tree but was promptly stoned to death.Richard Collins: Wildlife taking back the streets of our cities

The north pier on Cape Clear has been eerily quiet these last few months as no visitors disembark. The ferry is not unloading boatloads of tourists from Baltimore, 45 minutes away, or from Schull, as it would normally.The Islands of Ireland: Cape Clear tells its side of the story

If the Donegal postman and amateur weather forecaster has it right, we could be in for water shortages in the coming months. Michael Gallagher, who predicted the scorching summer of 2018 and the 2010 freeze-up, says we’ll have a ‘lovely’ summer.Donal Hickey: Demand for water to soar

More From The Irish Examiner