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Thursday 22 August 2019

Swimmers warned to stay out of Dublin Bay due to sewage

No go zone: The beach at Sandymount is now closed. Picture: Gerry Mooney
No go zone: The beach at Sandymount is now closed. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Allison Bray

Much of Dublin Bay has been declared a no-go area for swimmers for the fourth time this summer after heavy rain caused an overflow of wastewater from the city's treatment plant at Ringsend.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council yesterday advised swimmers to avoid going into the water at five popular south Dublin beaches - including Seapoint, Sandycove, the Forty Foot, Killiney and Whiterock until at least 6pm today.

Dollymount beach was added to Dublin City Council's list of no-bathing zones yesterday while seasonal bans are already in place at Merrion and Sandymount beaches due concerns over bacterial levels in the water.

The latest beach closure notices come after Dublin City Council announced there had been "a significant overflow from the storm storage tanks at the Ringsend Wastewater treatment plant into the River Liffey during the early hours of [Friday] morning".

"This was as a result of adverse weather conditions and significant rainfall over the Dublin area last night," the council said.

Its officials are liaising with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Health Service Executive (HSE) and will continue to monitor water quality, it said in a statement.

The council also apologised to beachgoers stating it "regrets this weather based event and will lift the prohibition notices as soon as the water quality results are at the required standard, in consultation with the EPA and the HSE".

Apology

But local residents and swimmers said the apology was not enough.

"The whole bay is poisoned and polluted," said Damien Cassidy, chair of the Ringsend, Irishtown and Sandymount Environment Group.

He is planning to petition the European Parliament to shut down the treatment plant, which he claims is continuing to spew toxic pollution into the sea.

"The idea the whole bay is now polluted and we've been ordered not to swim in it is crazy," he said.

Irish Water has maintained the treatment facility is unable to cope with Dublin's growing population.

It is currently in the midst of a €400m upgrade to the plant.

Meanwhile, more rain, possibly heavy, thundery bursts, is forecast for this weekend, which may escalate further overflows.

Met Eireann said there was a possibility of further heavy downpours today.

"Further heavy showers or longer spells of rain will continue to occur on Saturday night," the forecaster said.

"Light to moderate west to northwest winds will be fresh to strong at times along coasts."

It predicted lows of 11C to 14C while tomorrow will be "a much fresher and cooler day".

Next week will see conditions begin to dry out.

Irish Independent

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