LUSK Waste Watch Group believes the raw sewage leak that led to the closure of a north Dublin beach last week could have implications for a giant treatment plant being proposed for their area.
The group made its comments after raw sewage entered the sea at Balbriggan following the malfunction of the Isacc’s Bower and Rush Road pumping stations.
However, Fingal County Council has pointed out that larger plants like the one proposed by the Greater Dublin Drainage Project have a significantly higher level of engineering resilience built into them.
Lorcan O'Toole, a spokesperson for Lusk Waste Watch, told Northside People: "If this (spillage at Balbriggan) is what happens with a small sewage plant, how can we have confidence in the council’s operation of a larger plant?
“Reassurances that this would never happen in a huge regional plant, like the one Fingal County Council is proposing, do not ring true.
“Are we to be condemned to having millions of litres of raw sewage from other council areas pumped into our fishing and bathing waters?” he asked.
“It looks that way if Fingal County Council go ahead with their plans.
"What happened was a terrible accident. We have to accept that even with the best planning, accidents happen and eventually systems fail.
“Imagine the consequence if we had a massive sewage treatment plant that failed.
“The consequences for tourism, health, fishing, horticulture and life generally in the area would be disastrous. We have to learn from events such as this."
Mr O’Toole added: “Lusk Waste Watch continues to oppose any plans to locate a regional sewage treatment plant in the area.”
In a statement to Northside People, Fingal County Council said: “It’s important to point out that larger plants like the one proposed by the Greater Dublin Drainage Project have a significantly higher level of engineering resilience built into them given the much higher volume of wastewater they treat.
“On-site power generation and high volume overflow storage capacity would be standard features of a plant of this kind meaning that localised power outages and/or temporary pump failures would not result in the kind of overflow/discharge to sea that happened at Isaac’s Bower and Rush Road pumping stations.
“These plants are also staffed on a 24-hour basis so any mechanical failure could be immediately addressed by those on site.”
Greater Dublin Drainage recently received almost 2,000 submissions for the third phase of the new sewage plant consultation process.
Three sites – two in Lusk and one in Clonshaugh – are under consideration for the plant, which has sparked fury among residents in both areas and led to a number of protests.
Meanwhile, Balbriggan beach reopened to bathers last Friday (August 31) after the council confirmed that water quality had returned to within European bathing water quality limits.
“Water quality results returned today (August 31) from a sample taken at Balbriggan beach on August 29 confirm that the bathing water quality has returned to within Blue Flag limits,” a spokesperson for the council said.