FINGAL County Council has issued a detailed explanation of the events that led to a sewage overflow into the waters off Balbriggan Beach that resulted in the beach being closed to bathers.
Power interruptions due to bad weather in the Skerries/Balbriggan area last Monday and Tuesday caused pumps at Fingal County Council wastewater pumping stations at Rush Road (Skerries) and at Isaacs Bower (Balbriggan) to fail. Rush Road pumping station was out for just under two hours on Tuesday morning and no further outages have happened at Rush Road. Isaacs Bower pumping station in Balbriggan however, was out for just over 26 hours, from 12.48 p.m. on Monday, August 27, to 3.30 p.m on Tuesday. The power interruptions at Isaacs Bower also caused an item of electrical control equipment to fail which meant that an alarm signal could not be transmitted. The council explained: ' During this time there was extensive heavy rain in the area adding to the volume of water being carried in our drainage network and the consequent overflow volume coming from the pumping station.'
Failure of the Isaacs Bower pumping station caused the sewage overflow which affected Balbriggan Beach last Tuesday. There were further overflows on Tuesday and Wednesday as heavy rains continued, allied with a blockage in the pumps as a result of the initial problems. Later on Wednesday the council confirmed that the overflows from Isaacs Bower had stopped and that the contractor was on site repairing the pumps. The local authority said no further overflows were expected. The council said it had responded to the incident after the overflows were reported to it by a member of the public.
The local authority said: 'A visual inspection of the beach at Balbriggan was carried out on Tuesday afternoon and a notice was issued by our Principal Environmental Health Officer advising people not to swim at Balbriggan Beach until further notice. ' This warning not to swim was posted at the beach, a warning was posted on our website and a link to this information was tweeted from @fingalcoco twitter account late Tuesday afternoon. 'Visual inspections of the shoreline have been carried out in Skerries, Barnageeragh and Balbriggan beaches to determine the extent of the impact from the pumping station overflows.
Water quality samples were also taken at Balbriggan, Barnageeragh and Skerries.' The council said: ' Where any breaches of bathing water quality occur, water quality sampling will continue until test results confirm that bathing water quality has returned to European Bathing Water Quality standards.'
The initial effect of the overflow in Balbriggan is that the beach must remain closed to bathers until water quality at the beach meets the European Bathing Water Quality Standard. Some physical cleanup may be required at the beach in Balbriggan following this incident. This may involve the removal of sludge or any other material which has accumulated. The council concluded: ' Water quality sampling will continue to be carried out to monitor the recovery of the marine environment and to ensure that water quality is restored to the European Bathing Water Quality Standard before bathers are allowed back into the water at Balbriggan beach. There is no other risk to public health at this time.' The beach re-opened on Friday.