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Monday 20 May 2019

Toxic foam causes thousands of fish to die in the Tolka River

The scene on the Tolka River
The scene on the Tolka River

Elaine McCahill

Thousands of fish have died as a result of an apparent detergent dump in to the River Tolka in the north inner city, a Government agency has said.

A 5km stretch of the northside river – from the Finglas Road to the sea – was contaminated by a toxic foam yesterday with investigations by the EPA, Dublin City Council and Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) under way to establish the source of the pollution.


IFI director Brian Beckett said today: “We had a discharge of contaminating material causing a significant and extensive fish kill.

“We have teams out there at the moment quantifying the numbers but we’re talking about probably in excess of thousands of fish [killed] at this stage.”

He said the Tolka is a “hugely productive river” for fish and that the investigation to determine the source of the contamination is “ongoing”.

Speaking on RTE Radio Mr Beckett appealed to those responsible for the pollution to come forward.

“We would ask particularly anybody who’s involved in the handling of toxic materials in the area that they would redouble their efforts and ensure that anything that they’re doing with those materials are according to their licences that would be appropriate from the local authority or the EPA,” he said.

Workers arrived at the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin yesterday to find foam on a large section of the river and fish jumping out of the water in distress.

The park’s foreman Brian Furlong told the Herald: “When I arrived it looked like there had been a huge snowfall down by the river. The foam was floating through the air.

“Unfortunately, this has resulted in a large kill of fish. It’s so disappointing to see as many of them were mature large fish, such as trout, which are necessary for breeding,” he said.

Brian said he fears it will take some time for the stocks to recover after such heavy pollution to the river. “It’s very disappointing, we haven’t seen an incident this bad in years.”

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