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Major U-turn on dumping of liquid waste

COUNCIL workers have been told not to dump potentially toxic waste into a Phoenix Park sewer after the issue was highlighted by the Herald.

Contractors were routinely transporting noxious liquid -- leachate -- across the city and pouring it into the public sewer from where it flowed to a treatment plant in Ringsend.

The practice was heavily criticised by Dublin 15 residents and politicians who raised health and safety concerns and complained about bad smells.

Experts say that leachate can be virtually harmless or dangerously toxic, depending on the type of the material in the landfill. Gallons of the liquid was been moved every week from Balleally landfill in north county Dublin to a Navan Road sewer as part of an arrangement between Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council.

The movement of the leachate was necessary because of an over-capacity in Fingal's own disposal system. However, as a result of the concerns highlighted in the Herald, Fingal Council has now revised its arrangements "so that leachate is delivered directly to the Ringsend waste water treatment plant for full treatment".

"This is to allay any public concern and perceptions of danger that have arisen from the supervised discharge of the leachate into the drainage network in Dublin 15," said a spokesperson. The move has been welcomed by local Labour TD Joe Costello, who described it as "a victory".

"It was counter-productive to be transporting this material from a landfill to a site in Dublin 15 rather than simply to the treatment plant.

"It will quell people's fears that any potential danger would be eliminated," he said.

Typically, landfill leachate has high concentrations of nitrogen, iron, organic carbon, manganese, chloride and phenols.

But the council spokesperson stressed that members of the public were never exposed to any risk "from the discharge of leachate from Balleally to the drainage network".

"Leachate is classified as non -hazardous by the EPA and in this case it was carried by tanker in the normal way and discharged under council supervision at all times," she said.

Fingal Council previously told the Herald the movement of leachate to Ringsend is temporary, pending the construction of a waste water treatment plant in Portrane.