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Inland Fisheries Ireland investigating Claim by Coastwatch That Local Authority Using Chlorine to Treat Local Streams

16th August 2022

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) says it is investigating a “very concerning” claim by Coastwatch that a local authority is chlorinating local streams which flow into a popular southeast beach.

Coastwatch spokeswoman Karin Dubsky says that children are at risk, along with stream life, due to the use of sodium hypochlorite to disinfect water flowing into a designated bathing water area at Dunmore East, Co Waterford.

Coastwatch has filed a report on the issue to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In its report to the EPA, Coastwatch says that the water quality in the two streams is poor or not dependable, and “apparently has been problematic for decades”.

Coastwatch spokeswoman Karin DubskyCoastwatch spokeswoman Karin Dubsky

It notes that authorities use this disinfection practise to kill faecal microbes and protect the health of bathers and children playing in the stream.

“However it also kills all stream life and exposes small children playing in the stream mouth to chlorine vapours and chlorinated stream water, which can have significant health effects,” it says.

“There are no warnings to the public to take this risk into account. Furthermore, the drip sites – especially the westerly one - are easily accessible to exploring children. Contact with a drip can result in serious burns and possible loss of eyesight,”it says.

“While this appears to be contrary to the Water Pollution Act 1977 Section 3 and other legislation, Coastwatch was told first verbally and then in writing that it would continue for public health reasons,” it says.

Waterford City and County Council said it disputes Coastwatch Ireland’s claim that it is in breach of the Water Pollution Act.

“Two streams flowing into Dunmore East bathing area are chlorinated during the summer bathing season and have been for a number of years,” Waterford City and County Council said in a statement.

“This is due to diffuse and unidentified point source pollution sources upstream of the beach. The chlorine is driven off by the motion of the water and as such is unlikely to affect the flora and fauna in the bay and certainly not as much as some beach users leaving their rubbish, discarded plastics and other waste,” it said.

“The stream is chlorinated upstream of the culvert to the beach, primarily because children tend to play in the stream despite notices being erected advising adults/parents that it is unsafe to do so,” the local authority said.

“The purpose of the chlorination plant is primarily to protect human health from the impact of diffuse pollution sources further upstream,” it said.

Inland Fisheries Ireland said it had received communication last week from the EPA on the issue.

“The issues raised are very concerning, and Inland Fisheries Ireland will investigate the matter immediately, from a fisheries perspective,” it said.

It asked members of the public to report any suspected water pollution incidents to its new confidential hotline number on 0818 34 74 24, which is open 24 hours a day.

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

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