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Dublin: 1 °C Wednesday 26 February, 2020
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Warning of 'odour' near Ringsend as EPA says plumes to continue until waste water plant upgrade

It follows an apparent leak at the plant this week.

A brown plume photographed in Dublin Bay this week
A brown plume photographed in Dublin Bay this week

THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION Agency (EPA) has warned that plumes will continue to appear in Dublin Bay until an upgrade to the Ringsend waste water treatment plant is complete.

The agency conducted an inspection at the facility yesterday after it received a report that a brown plume was discharging into Dublin Bay from the plant, the third such occurrence this year.

In a statement today, the EPA said that it had taken a sample of waste water discharged from the plant, and attributed the latest plume to an overload at the plant.

“The overloaded plant was operating as normal, there was no recent breakdown or failure of equipment at the plant, and all waste water was passing through the treatment process,” the agency said.

“The plume was attributed to the overloaded plant not being capable of consistently treating the waste water to the required standards.”

The agency has previously said that the plant is failing to meet national and European treatment standards because it is not big enough to treat all of the wastewater it receives.

This week’s spillage follows similar spills in February and last month.

The plant treats approximately 40% of the country’s sewage, and Irish Water is investing hundreds of millions of Euro as part of a staged upgrade of the facility to allow the wastewater of an additional 400,000 people to be treated.

Further improvements to bring the treatment capacity up to serve 2.4 million people are expected to be completed by 2023.

However, the EPA said that plumes will continue to be visible in water near the plant until these works are finished.

“Waste water discharged from the plant is breaching, and will continue to breach, the quality standards until the upgrade works are complete,” it said.

“It is likely therefore that there may be a visible plume from time to time near the discharge point until the plant upgrade is complete.”

In a separate statement, Irish Water said it would carry out cleaning works at the plant in the coming days to deal with current odour issues and to reduce the risk of odours from other debris over the summer.

The works involve cleaning the storm water holding tanks, which currently contain a large amount of debris following the heavy rainfalls last month.

“Unfortunately, the process of removing the debris from the tanks may create a certain amount of odour and Irish Water apologises to people in the area for any inconvenience caused,” Irish Water’s regional operations lead John O’Donoghue said. 

The utility added that the works would start immediately and take approximately one week to finish.

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