Enniscorthy town water intake on the Slaney was shut off for six hours at the weekend after an oil slick was spotted on the Slaney. But county council officials have stressed that the measure was taken purely as a precaution and that the oil never reached the intake point in Clonhaston.
The alarm was raised on Saturday afternoon as concerned members of the public spotted that the surface of the river was polluted and contacted the council's emergency line (1800) 666777. The alert sparked the local authority to prompt action, with a floating boom and oil absorbent pads brought in to deal with the emergency.
The problem, which left a nasty smell hanging over the town late on Saturday and into Sunday morning, was traced back to a business, believed to be on the outskirts of town. Brendan Cooney of Wexford County Council environment section refused to name the company in question, for legal reasons.
However, he confirmed that a faulty oil trap had been cleaned out, and that no further oil appeared to have leaked into the Slaney. He also made it clear that the shut-down at the water intake from midnight to 6 a.m. on Sunday morning was initiated as a precaution in case the tide pushed the slick up stream. He added that the situation was difficult to assess at the time in darkness after the fall of night.
He expressed thanks to members of the public who notified not only the county council but also the inland fishery authorities that all was not well. The matter has been investigated by council staff and may lead to a prosecution in due course.
'The damage caused was negligible because we got to it early,' said the man at the environment section. 'Our system worked very well.' He said he believed the quantity of oil involved could be measured in tens of litres rather than hundreds.