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All water treatment plants to be audited after at least 52 people fall ill

Minister Darragh O’Brien said he is “pretty angry” at the failures at the plants serving people in Dublin and Wexford.

Image: Shutterstock/Yuri Samsonov

ALL WATER TREATMENT plants across the country will be audited by Irish Water following serious incidents at two separate plants which led to at least 52 confirmed illnesses.

The audits were ordered by Local Government Minister Darragh O’Brien today after the incidents at plants in Ballymore Eustace, which supplies drinking water to parts of Dublin city, and in Creagh, which serves Gorey in Co Wexford, were made public yesterday.

Minister O’Brien met with representatives from Irish Water, Dublin City Council, and Wexford County Council to discuss the matter today.

In a statement following the meeting, the Minister said: “In the immediate term Irish Water will now undertake an audit of the water treatment plants across the country.”

The utility company will prioritise audits of the largest 20 treatment plants. This will include visiting the sites and meetings with staff, to ensure “proper processes are in place in terms of dealing with and escalating any incidents which may arise,” O’Brien said.

  • Read more here on how you can support a major Noteworthy project to investigate areas around Ireland impacted by poor water supply.

The minister said he is “pretty angry” at the failures identified at the two treatment plants.

“I do want to say while these incidents are worrying, the water supply is safe,” he told RTÉ News.

“The water supply is safe in both of these areas but that does not get away from a situation where we’ve had systemic failures in process where public safety was put at risk.”

In a letter to Minister O’Brien, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that an abject failure in management oversight, operational control and responsiveness at two public drinking water treatment plants had allowed unsafe water to enter into the public drinking water supply and endanger public health.

The EPA said it had confirmed at least 52 people who became ill after consuming the water.

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Niall Gleeson, Managing Director of Irish Water, said he agreed with Minister O’Brien’s assessment that the incidents were “unacceptable”.

“In both instances, late notification of issues relating to the disinfection process at the plants potentially put public health at risk.

“In discussions today with the Chief Executives of Wexford and Dublin City Council, we reconfirmed that all measures would be taken to ensure there would be no recurrence of drinking water issues and can confirm to all customers the water is safe to drink.

“Irish Water also continues to consult with HSE on the outbreak of illnesses in Gorey and with Wexford County Council on a programme of works at the water treatment plant.

“We would like to apologise to customers for the delay in communicating the incident and the water treatment plant failing to meet the appropriate level of disinfection,” Gleeson said.

About the author:

Céimin Burke

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