Action urged over cancer toxin risk in village’s water

Irish Water has been directed to take immediate action on the public water supply to Kilgarvan, Co Kerry, because current treatment facilities are unable to deal with the risk of toxins linked to cancer.

A recent audit of the village’s water supply found the system was unable to remove organic matter.

The Kilgarvan supply is already on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) remedial action list because the levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) are above the drinking water standard.

THMs are compounds, including chloroform, that occur in drinking water as a result of a reaction between organic materials, such as soil and chlorine, which has been added as a disinfectant.

The EPA said the results of the audit showed current treatment of drinking water was “inadequate to deal with the THM risk in this supply”. As a result, the EPA has instructed Irish Water to undertake remedial works “without delay” to improve the quality of the Kilgarvan supply.

Though the risk of cryptosporidium — a parasite that causes gastroenteritis— is considered by the EPA to be low, the audit revealed that Irish Water was unable to identify why levels were above the recommended safety limit last March.

However, the audit found that, in general, the quality of treated drinking water for the village was good.

Kilgarvan is scheduled to be removed from the EPA’s remedial action list by December 2017.

“Irish Water must ensure that remedial measures to remove this supply from the list are progressed without delay and that interim remedial measures are also considered in the meanwhile,” said the EPA. “Overall, this plant was found to be well run, with good management practices in place.”

The EPA recommended that Irish Water should install alarms to alert caretakers of any issues with the drinking water supply.

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