Irish Water guilty over 3000 river fish deaths

Irish Water is to work with Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) on rehabilitation works on a river the utility polluted last year, causing the death of more than 3,000 fish.

A district court judge instructed Irish Water to carry out a full review of its waste water treatment plants, and provide a report to her by July 21, 2017.

Judge Catherine Staines’ decision at Portlaoise District Court came after the IFI successfully prosecuted Irish Water for the discharge of chemicals into the Clodiagh River, on August 18.

Evidence of the discharge was presented by Michael Fitzsimons, a senior fisheries environmental officer with IFI, after Irish Water entered a guilty plea.

Mr Fitzsimons said following a pollution report received from Irish Water, IFI carried out a detailed investigation on the river, a tributary of the Tullamore River.

The court heard more than 3,000 fish mortalities were estimated along a four-kilometre stretch of the river consisting predominantly of trout, and including salmon, lamprey, minnow and stoneloach.

The fish kill was as a direct result of a chemical discharge from an accident at the Irish Water plant in Clonsalee, Co Laois.

Judge Staines directed Irish Water to pay IFI’s legal costs of €5,016 and to cover the full cost of the rehabilitation works to be carried out downstream of the incident area.

She did not impose a fine on the basis it would be the Irish taxpayer paying for the incident.

A development plan will be formulated by IFI in the coming weeks.

Amanda Mooney, Shannon River Basin district director with IFI described the occurrence as “a serious pollution incident which will take a considerable number of years for the river to recover from”.

“I am pleased with the outcome and the provision for vital rehabilitation works to assist fish stocks to recover naturally,” she said.

Irish Water said it was unable to comment on the incident as the case was due before the court, again, next year.


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