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Agricultural contractor found guilty after slurry enters Limerick stream

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The contractor was ordered to pay the council’s costs of €2,000 and fined him €250

The contractor was ordered to pay the council’s costs of €2,000 and fined him €250

The contractor was ordered to pay the council’s costs of €2,000 and fined him €250

A judge found an agricultural contractor guilty of allowing polluting matters to enter waters but not guilty of failing to report it because he “did not believe” he did anything wrong.

Brendan McGrath, of Knockainey, Co Limerick pleaded not guilty at Kilmallock Court to two offences under the Water Pollution Act.

The person who made the complaint to the council told the court that on October 10, 2019, Mr McGrath’s contracting business was spreading slurry in the Herbertstown area.

“They were drawing slurry in a cul-de-sac and spreading it on land. The road got very dirty. It was muck from wheels and drips of slurry off the tank. There was slurry everywhere,” said the complainant.

Later that evening, he said, tankers of water were emptied on the road to clean it.

“All of it washed into the stream. I rang the council the following morning.”

Paul O’Grady, an executive engineer with Limerick City and County Council, said he attended the site on the following day.

“There was the aftermath of washing down of soiling on a laneway. There is a slight slope on the road. There was a line of foul-smelling material consisting of slurry in a gully. The smell does linger,” he said.

The defendant said his brother Seamus was spreading slurry for a client. That afternoon he took over and when he was finished he filled up the tanker with water from a stream.

“I spread the water on the first field to wash out the inside of the tanker. Then I got more water to clean the passage.

“It was dirty. There was clay on it from the tyres. We wouldn’t leave it that way,” said Mr McGrath, who denied there was slurry on the road.

Seamus McGrath said there couldn’t be any drips from the tank because they are “completely watertight and sealed”. “You will pick up a little bit of clay on your tyres but under oath there was no slurry on that passage,” he said.

Judge Patricia Harney said she had “no doubt” Brendan McGrath is a very diligent and conscientious agricultural contractor with an unblemished record.

“The difficulty I have is the independent witness from the council.

“There is no doubt in my mind Mr O’Grady gave truthful and correct evidence,” said Judge Harney, who convicted Mr McGrath of allowing polluting matters to enter waters.

She ordered he pay the council’s costs of €2,000 and fined him €250.

The judge dismissed the ‘failing to notify the local authority’ offence because Mr McGrath “did not believe” he did anything wrong.

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