independent

Friday 1 August 2014

Reaction 'as prompt as it could have been'

Council hit back over sewage spill criticism

JOHN MANNING

Published 02/10/2012|17:00

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FINGAL'S COUNTY manager has insisted that the council dealt with the recent sewage spill at Balbriggan Beach 'as prompt as it could have been under the circumstances'.

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The council came in for sharp criticism for taking 26 hours from the time of the spill to addressing the situation but the local authority has said it responded as soon as it was made aware there was a problem. It has emerged that a kayaker was the one to raise the alarm having noticed sewage in the waters off Balbriggan Beach. On receiving that report, the county manager said that the contractors responsible for the maintenance of the pump station that failed and caused the spill were immediately notified. The county manager acknowledged that there was a need to 'reinforce' the council's emergency procedures for this type of incident and improve its communications with the contractor but said the best solution to avoid an electrical failure at this pumphouse was to have a generator on site. He said a generator was not provided in this instance because of 'vociferous opposition' locally to the idea but he said in the long term the problem pump house just south of Balbriggan will have a lower burden and be less likely to fail after wasted it currently deals with is diverted elsewhere. Mr O'Connor said there was an immediate clean up of the beach once the problem had been identified and within days, the waters off the beach had returned to Blue Flag quality. The spill closed Balbriggan Beach to bathers for several days and opponents of plans to build a giant regional sewage plant on the Fingal coastline pointed to the spill as evidence that a much larger and potentially disastrous sewage accident could occur on the coast of the county if the controversial plans went ahead.

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