Monday 18 November 2019

Sewage flowed into sea as alarm failed

Sarah Stack and Louise Hogan

RAW sewage flowed into the sea unnoticed for more than 26 hours after an alarm failed to go off when the electrical power was cut off to a pumping station.

Swimmers were warned not to take to the water at Balbriggan Beach in north Dublin yesterday as excrement was visible on the sand.

A member of the public alerted authorities on Tuesday after spotting waste water being washed back in with the tide.

Fingal County Council is awaiting the results of water-quality samples from Balbriggan, and also the nearby beaches at Barnageeragh and Skerries, which are expected today.

A spokeswoman said the incident was "unusual" and was being taken "very seriously."

Power interruptions due to bad weather in the north Dublin area on Monday and Tuesday caused the pumps at the wastewater pumping station at Isaac's Bower -- which services all of Balbriggan -- to fail.

It was out of action from 12.48pm on Monday to 3.30pm on Tuesday.

Last night, the council said it was not possible to estimate the volume pumped out to sea.

Brian Hosford, chair of Reclaim Fingal Alliance which is campaigning against a super sewage plant in the area, said the malfunction highlights problems with unreliable technology.

"If a monster sewage plant were built and a disaster like this happened the consequences for the entire east coast would be catastrophic," he said.

Fingal County Council said larger plants, like the one proposed for the Greater Dublin Drainage project, have a significantly higher level of engineering resilience built into them.

The beach will remain closed and testing will continue until it meets the European bathing water standards.

The Rush Road pumping station, serving Skerries, also failed for two-hours on Tuesday.

Irish Independent

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