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Ireland faces fine over septic tanks

Minister disappointed at decision but says new legislation will be enacted without delay.

Image: eutrophication&hypoxia via Flickr

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) is to ask the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to fine Ireland over failure to deal with septic tanks and wastewater treatment systems under the Waste Framework Directive.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said he is disappointed at the decision by the EC, which he says comes despite the Government’s swift action on the matter.

According to the Department of the Environment there are more than 440,000 houses in Ireland that have septic tanks or other similar on-site wastewater treatment systems.

Reports from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have identified septic tanks as a potential source of water pollution, particularly of groundwater sources – an important source of drinking water.

Currently there is no system for the inspection or monitoring of septic tanks.  The minister said the Court ruling has highlighted this as a major weakness in Ireland’s overall environmental management structures.

Hogan said this will be addressed by new laws.  He said he aimed to have the legislation considered and enacted by the Oireachtas without delay. He added that the main objectives of the new monitoring and inspection system will be the protection of public health and of the environment.

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