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These 38 sewage treatment sites are putting your health at risk

An EPA report has also found raw sewage is still being dumped into bathing waters.

Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Works File photo at Ringsend waste water treatment Plant in Dublin. /Photocall Ireland /Photocall Ireland

A REPORT FROM Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found a large number of the country’s sewage discharges fail to meet treatment EU treatment standards.

In total, 38 sites failed to meet the European Directive on urban waste-water treatment, which was set 20 years ago:

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Included are the country’s two largest cities, Dublin and Cork. Gerard O’Leary, Director of EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, said the 38 urban centres on this list “place the health of people and the environment at risk”.

The reasons for the failures range from, in some instances a complete absence of infrastructure to treat sewage, in others, inadequate infrastructure, and in further instances, poor management and operation of infrastructure.

The report found that the discharge of raw sewage contributed to poor bathing water quality at four designated bathing waters last year.

Four additional areas were also found to be at risk from waste water discharges, including Youghal and Ardmore.

The report found that, in total, 44 areas had no waste water treatment at all and are discharging raw sewage. Half of the 350 infrastructural improvements required in EPA licences before 2013 had not been completed by the end of the year.

It also discovered that six seriously polluted river sites where pollution is caused by urban waste water charges with 49 sewage works linked with river pollution, though 11 rivers previously polluted with waste are now unpolluted.

One of the main issues appears to be with operation and maintenance, according to the EPA, with 45 audits finding that a maintenance programme for plants and equipment was not in place.

The EPA said priorities for Irish Water are to eliminate raw sewage discharges, reduce the pollution impact of sewage and improve the performance of existing wastewater infrastructure.

Speaking to RTÉ this morning, an Irish Water Head of Assets Gerry Grant acknowledged there is a “massive problem” with sewage treatment. He said the country would need to spend “well over €2 billion” by 2022 to sort it out.

Read: Rank smell plagues Donegal estate as raw sewage runs down main road>

Read: Could septic tanks be a thing of the past?>

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