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The Rivers Trust supports the findings of new report that rings alarm bells about the critical state of water quality management in Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

The Surfers Against Sewage Water Quality Report for 2023 says that in Northern Ireland, there is a lack of the discharge of raw sewage into waters at popular beaches and inland waterways bathing sites — and both anecdotal reports and water quality data suggest the problem is significant.

Mark Horton, all-Ireland director of The Rivers Trust said the report “underscores longstanding environmental concerns we continually raise. The evidence of the effects of sewage and pollution is there and clear.

“The severe algal bloom in Lough Neagh is a stark illustration of the consequences of poor environmental stewardship in Northern Ireland.”

NI’s 2,398 operational sewage overflows — and the sparse data on their performance — emphasise an urgent need for investment in increased monitoring and more transparency so the public can make informed decisions and remedial actions can be taken, The Rivers Trust says.

Horton added: “The management of sewage in Northern Ireland shows a critical need for investment and modernisation. With the absence of a functioning Stormont Executive and no independent environment agency, decisive actions to protect and restore water quality are practically impossible.

“This inaction is unacceptable. Water users in Northern Ireland deserve the same level of safety and information as those elsewhere. Ultimately, we need proper resourcing of Northern Ireland Water to enable it to put in place real-time sewage alerts, so swimmers, surfers and anglers can protect themselves from direct discharges of untreated sewage.”

Horton acknowledged NI water’s plans to deploy monitoring systems by 2024 as “a positive step”, but cautioned that “the lack of clarity on how data will be dissemination and public accessibility to the data remains a concern”.

“Real-time, accessible water quality information isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a necessity for the health and safety of our communities and ecosystems,” he said.

The operator of a sea angling business in Wicklow Harbour has spoken out over a faulty storm drain pipe that has been pumping raw sewage into the water next to his berth.

Kit Dunne of Wicklow Boat Charters told the Wicklow People that he has brought the problem with the South Quay outflow pipe to harbour officials and local councillors “time and again” over a number of years.

“I’m investing in a new vessel at a cost of €300,000 and I don’t see how I can develop my business if my new boat is right beside a stinking sewer,” he said.

The harbour, which is also used regularly by Wicklow Swimming Club, was recently subject to a no-swim notice due to pollution from the storm water overflow.

Meanwhile, Cllr Mary Kavanagh recently engaged with Dunne on the matter and said she is following up with the relevant officials.

“Sewage shouldn’t be mixing with surface water and coming out of a overflow storm drain,” she said. “I don’t know yet what is causing it but it is totally unsatisfactory to have sewage going into the harbour. The smells are appalling and you can only imagine the damage that is being caused to marine and sea life.”

The Wicklow People has more on the story HERE.

Published in Irish Harbours
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says as much as 500 million litres of potentially untreated wastewater is being released into Ireland’s rivers and coastal waters every day.

As the Irish Independent reports, the agency warns that it will take decades, and billions of euro, to correct the problem — but as yet Irish Water has “no clear action plan or time frame” for remedial works at many of what the EPA identifies as priority areas.

As of the middle of 2022, as many as 32 small towns and villages were discharging raw sewage as they have no wastewater treatment infrastructure.

Overall, the EPA claims that 49% of Ireland’s sewage — far above the EU average of 10% — is “still not treated to the standards set to protect the environment”, according to the agency’s programme manager Noel Byrne.

The Irish Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Environment

The Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School (INSS) has expressed its frustration over the second discharge this month of wastewater into Dublin Bay, which has seen new bathing bans issued at several popular swimming spots in the capital.

While the latest notice does not apply to the waters inside Dun Laoghaire Harbour, the INSS says it has still had to activate its ‘unclean water procedure’ as Salthill beach, from where it usually operates, and other locations woke up to an ‘orange slick’ on the shoreline this morning (Tuesday 25 June). This slick has since been confirmed by the local authority as an algal bloom "not directly associated" with the wastewater overflow.

The procedure involves alterations to activities, use of small keelboats instead of dinghies if appropriate, and stringent instructor supervision to ensure people are on rather than in the water.

While afloat, all safety boats must carry hand-sanitising wipes, and children must regularly wash their hands. Shore side, extensive hand-washing, sanitising gels and a focus on good hygiene practises minimises the risk as much as possible.

“On this occasion, we have been relatively lucky to still be able to operate within the harbour,” said Glyn Williams, the school’s communications and marketing manager.

“However, it’s not good enough that we find out about this later in the day,” he added, referring to the initial reports of the latest bathing ban last night. “The treatment plant operator knew they were discharging. Why not tell everyone straight away?”

Chief instructor Kenneth Rumball also noted that the summer sailing season for children is only 12 weeks long, and with the current water notices lasting until at least this Thursday “we now have six days of a short summer lost to this”.

Responding to Irish Water’s claim that the latest overflow ‘happened as it should have happened’, the school said this cuts little ice with the parents of children attending the its courses.

“Parents are equally as exasperated as we are. While all those we spoke with earlier this morning are understanding, they equally feel that Irish Water/the treatment plant operator should get this solved more quickly than they are currently doing.”

Following similar calls by the likes of Green Party Councillor Ossian Smyth, the INSS is urging those with responsibility to immediately progress upgrades for the sewage system at Ringsend Treatment Plant to cope with heavy rainfall — something Irish Water says would require a “huge amount” of investment.

The school also calls for more transparent communication, in real time, if and when discharges are occurring, coupled with pre-emptive warnings and same-day water sampling results.

Commenting on how these water quality issues affect the development of Dun Laoghaire Harbour as a marine leisure destination, Glyn Williams said: “We have to make sure that we get the basics in place before we undertake large scale plans.

“There’s no point in expending time and money when the most basic requirement for water sports is not in place: safe water to operate in.”

Heavy rains in recent days have led to another wastewater overflow at the Ringsend treatment plant, as well as other pumping stations, that has prompted a new swimming ban at several Dublin Bay beaches.

It marks the second time this month that bathing has been prohibited at Dollymount Strand, Seapoint, Sandycove and the Forty Foot at Sandycove.

Both Dublin City and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown councils say their bans will remain in place pending test for water quality, the first results of which are due on Thursday — in a week where Met Éireann forecasts higher temperatures.

While the bans do not affect Dun Laoghaire Harbour or other beaches in either council area, organisers of water-based sporting events have been advised to take note, as The Irish Times reports.

Notices will be put up on beaches today, Tuesday 25 June, according to RTÉ News.

Update 4.30pm: Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council says tests on an ‘orange slick’ at Sandycove Beach confirm the presence of Noctiluca scintillans, a form of algae, and not raw sewage.

In a statement, the council said the non-toxic species is “a natural summer phenomenon in response to long day length, high nutrients and warm water” and is “not directly associated with the waste water overflows associated with the temporary bathing prohibition”.

 

Published in Dublin Bay

Dublin local authorities have issued bathing ban notices for a number of popular swimming spots after a sewage leak at the Ringsend wastewater treatment plant, as RTÉ News reports.

Swimming is currently prohibited along the coast between Dollymount in North Dublin and White Rock Beach in Killiney on the Southside, just beyond Dublin Bay.

The string of bathing spots includes the enduringly popular Forty Foot in Sandycove.

Moreover, Sandymount and Merrion just south of Ringsend — where the wastewater plant was in the news earlier this year over a discharge in the Liffey — have been landed with a swimming ban for the entire 2019 bathing season due to their overall poor water quality.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Forty Foot Swimming

Almost 30 sewage schemes across Ireland fall short of EU directives on wastewater treatment, as The Green News reports.

The European Court of Justice ruling from this past Thursday 28 March now means Ireland could be liable to significant fines if the problem schemes are not addressed.

Among the court’s findings were that Cork city’s strained wastewater treatment scheme was subject to more than 800 spillages of untreated sewage in 2015 alone.

Sensitive areas in Killarney, Longford, Dundalk and Tralee, among others, were also affected by untreated wastewater discharges for which the State has been reprimanded by European judges.

In addition, the State as found guilty of failing to provide for secondary treatment at a number of problem sites including Cobh in Cork Harbour, the fishing harbours of Arklow and Killybegs, and Ringsend in Dublin — the latter of which was the scene of a discharge of ‘activated sludge’ only a month ago.

The Department of Housing and Local Government says it has provided Irish Water “with the necessary resources to both tackle the deficiencies identified by the [ECJ] as well as providing the infrastructure which will underpin the future sustainable development of our country.”

Part of the State’s defence in this case were occasions of ‘unusually heavy rainfall’ that overwhelmed the country’s wastewater management systems.

Such conditions are also linked to the leeching of nitrates and phosphates from agricultural sites causing seaweed blooms in coastal areas, as highlighted by a recent academic report.

The news also comes after oral hearings began into a long-planned €500 million wastewater treatment scheme for North Dublin that faces strong local oppositions.

The Green News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

Planners are from today set to review proposals for a controversial €500 million wastewater treatment scheme in North Dublin, as The Irish Times reports.

Clonshaugh near Dublin Airport was chosen in June 2013 as the site for the sewage ‘super plant’ before Irish Water took over the Greater Dublin Drainage project from Fingal County Council last year.

The new plant — second only to the Ringsend wastewater facility in scope — would be connected to a new orbital sewer to Blanchardstown, and an outfall pipe to eject treated wastewater in the sea north of Ireland’s Eye.

Plans for the new sewage processing plant have faced strong local opposition, both from residents adjacent to the Clonshaugh site and connected works and marine professionals concerned about potential environmental risks.

Last October, Howth-based ferryman Ken Doyle expressed his fears of the knock-on effect on fish stocks from any accidental contamination of the local waters from the outfall pipe.

The planning hearing began at The Gresham hotel in Dublin this morning, and The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#MarineWildlife - A Howth-based ferryman fears for marine wildlife on and around Ireland’s Eye when a planned sewage outfall pipe begins discharging wastewater in the area.

Ken Doyle of Ireland’s Eye Ferries tells Dublin Live that any accidental contamination of the waters from the pipeline, from Clonshaugh to a mile off the small island immediately north of Howth, could have a disastrous knock-on effect on fish stocks — an issue both for sea anglers and local bird and seal colonies.

Five years ago, Clonshaugh in North Co Dublin was chosen as the location for the capital’s wastewater treatment ‘super plant’.

The scheme will connect a 26km orbital sewer through counties Dublin, Kildare and Meath with an outfall pipeline ejecting waste off Ireland’s Eye.

Doyle noted that when the outflow of raw sewage at Howth Head was ended with the opening of the Ringsend treatment plant, improvements in water quality meant “the bird population increased hugely and it’s all positive but I wouldn’t like it to go back to like it was.”

He adds that he is not opposed to the wastewater scheme in principle — only that he and other local residents and businesses want assurances that the plant will not have any negative impact on the environment.

Dublin Live has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Pollution - Cork Harbour, Ringsend in Dublin and more than 40 other Irish riverside or coastal towns and cities in still fail to meet EU sewage standards, according to a damning new EPA report.

RTÉ News has details of the environmental agency’s 2015 Urban Waste Water Treatment Report, which identifies 43 urban areas — 29 of them classed as large towns or cities – that continue to release raw sewage into the sea and rivers across Ireland.

A number of these locations have seen their timetable for tackling such discharges slip by almost two years due to lack of sufficient capital investment, which the EPA decries as “unacceptable”.

In locations such as Youghal and Merrion Strand, the release of untreated waste has been linked to a significant lowering of bathing water quality.

The news is little different from almost three years ago, when the EPA identified the likes of Killybegs in Co Donegal and Cork Harbour as black spots for untreated wastewater.

More recently, Housing Minister Simon Coveney promised that the problem of discharges from a number of communities around Cork Harbour would be solved within the next 18 months, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in News Update
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Port of Cork Information

The Port of Cork is the key seaport in the south of Ireland and is one of only two Irish ports which service the requirements of all six shipping modes i.e., Lift-on Lift-off, Roll-on Roll-off, Liquid Bulk, Dry Bulk, Break Bulk and Cruise. Due to its favourable location on the south coast of Ireland and its modern deep-water facilities, the Port of Cork is ideally positioned for additional European trading as well as for yet unexploited direct deep-sea shipping services.

The Port of Cork is investing €80 million in a container terminal development in Ringaskiddy. The Cork Container Terminal will initially offer a 360-metre quay with 13-metre depth alongside and will enable larger ships to berth in the port. The development also includes the construction of a 13.5-hectare terminal and associated buildings as well as two ship to shore gantry cranes and container handling equipment.

The development of new container handling facilities at Ringaskiddy was identified in the Port of Cork’s Strategic Development Plan in 2010. It will accommodate current and future container shipping which can be serviced by modern and efficient cargo handling equipment with innovative terminal operating and vehicle booking systems. The Port of Cork anticipates that Cork Container Terminal will be operational in 2020.

The Port of Cork is the key seaport in the south of Ireland and is one of just two Irish ports which service the requirements of all shipping modes.

The Port of Cork also controls Bantry Bay Port Company and employs 150 people across all locations.

A European Designated Core Port and a Tier 1 Port of National Significance, Port of Cork’s reputation for quality service, including prompt and efficient vessel turnaround as well as the company’s investment in future growth, ensures its position as a vital link in the global supply chain.

The port has made impressive strides in recent decades, most recently with the construction of the new €80m Cork Container Terminal in Ringaskiddy which will facilitate the natural progression of the move from a river port to a deepwater port in order to future proof the Port
of Cork. This state-of-the-art terminal which will open in 2020 will be capable of berthing the largest container ships currently calling to Ireland.

The Port of Cork Company is a commercial semi-state company responsible for the commercial running of the harbour as well as responsibility for navigation and berthage in the port.  The Port is the main port serving the South of Ireland, County Cork and Cork City. 

Types of Shipping Using Port of Cork

The Port offers all six shipping modes from Lift-on Lift-off, Roll-on Roll-off, Liquid Bulk, Dry Bulk, Break Bulk and Cruise liner traffic.

Port of Cork Growth

The port has made impressive strides in recent decades. Since 2000, the Port of Cork has invested €72 million in improving Port infrastructure and facilities. Due to its favourable location and its modern deepwater facilities, the Port is ideally positioned for additional European trading as well as for yet unexploited direct deep-sea shipping services. A well-developed road infrastructure eases the flow of traffic from and to the port. The Port of Cork’s growing reputation for quality service, including prompt and efficient vessel turnaround, ensures its position as a vital link in the global supply chain. The Port of Cork Company turnover in 2018 amounted to €35.4 million, an increase of €3.9 million from €31.5 million in 2017. The combined traffic of both the Ports of Cork and Bantry increased to 10.66 million tonnes in 2018 up from 10.3 million tonnes in 2017.

History of Port of Cork

Famous at the last port of call of the Titanic, these medieval navigation and port facilities of the city and harbour were historically managed by the Cork Harbour Commissioners. Founded in 1814, the Cork Harbour Commissioners moved to the Custom House in 1904.  Following the implementation of the 1996 Harbours Act, by March 1997 all assets of the Commissioners were transferred to the Port of Cork Company.

Commercial Traffic at Port of Cork

Vessels up to 90,000 tonnes deadweight (DWT) are capable of coming through entrance to Cork Harbour. As the shipping channels get shallower the farther inland one travels, access becomes constricted, and only vessels up to 60,000 DWT can sail above Cobh. The Port of Cork provides pilotage and towage facilities for vessels entering Cork Harbour. All vessels accessing the quays in Cork City must be piloted and all vessels exceeding 130 metres in length must be piloted once they pass within 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 km) of the harbour entrance.

Berthing Facilities in Cork Harbour

The Port of Cork has berthing facilities at Cork City, Tivoli, Cobh and Ringaskiddy. The facilities in Cork City are primarily used for grain and oil transport. Tivoli provides container handling, facilities for oil, livestock and ore and a roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) ramp. Prior to the opening of Ringaskiddy Ferry Port, car ferries sailed from here; now, the Ro-Ro ramp is used by companies importing cars into Ireland. In addition to the ferry terminal, Ringaskiddy has a deep water port.

Port of Cork Development Plans

2020 will be a significant year for the Port of Cork as it prepares to complete and open the €86 million Cork Container Terminal development in Ringaskiddy.

Once operational the new terminal will enable the port to handle up to 450,000 TEU per annum. Port of Cork already possess significant natural depth in Cork harbour, and the work in Ringaskiddy Port will enable the Port of Cork to accommodate vessels of 5500 to 6000 TEU, which will provide a great deal of additional potential for increasing container traffic.

It follows a previous plan hatched in 2006 as the port operated at full capacity the Port drew up plans for a new container facility at Ringaskiddy. This was the subject of major objections and after an Oral Planning Hearing was held in 2008 the Irish planning board Bord Pleanala rejected the plan due to inadequate rail and road links at the location.  

Further notable sustainability projects also include:

  • The Port of Cork have invested in 2 x STS cranes – Type single lift, Model P (148) L, (WS) Super. These cranes contain the most modern and energy-efficient control and monitoring systems currently available on the market and include an LED floodlight system equipped with software to facilitate remote diagnostics, a Crane Management System (CMS) and an energy chain supply on both cranes replacing the previous preferred festoon cabling installation.
  • The Port of Cork has installed High Mast Lighting Voltage Control Units at its two main cargo handling locations – Tivoli Industrial & Dock Estate and Ringaskiddy Deep-water & Ferry Terminals. This investment has led to more efficient energy use and reduced risk of light pollution. The lights can also be controlled remotely.
  • The Port of Cork’s largest electrical consumer at Tivoli Container Terminal is the handling and storage of refrigerated containers. Local data loggers were used to assess energy consumption. This provided timely intervention regarding Power Factor Correction Bank efficiency on our STS (Ship to Shore) Cranes and Substations, allowing for reduced mains demand and reducing wattless energy losses along with excess charges. The information gathered has helped us to design and build a reefer storage facility with energy management and remote monitoring included.

Bantry Port

In 2017 Bantry Bay Port Company completed a significant investment of €8.5 million in the Bantry Inner Harbour development. The development consisted of a leisure marina, widening of the town pier, dredging of the inner harbour and creation of a foreshore amenity space.

Port of Cork Cruise Liner Traffic

2019 was a record cruise season for the Port of Cork with 100 cruise liners visiting. In total over 243,000 passengers and crew visited the region with many passengers visiting Cork for the first time.

Also in 2019, the Port of Cork's Cruise line berth in Cobh was recognised as one of the best cruise destinations in the world, winning in the Top-Rated British Isles & Western Europe Cruise Destination category. 

There has been an increase in cruise ship visits to Cork Harbour in the early 21st century, with 53 such ships visiting the port in 2011, increasing to approximately 100 cruise ship visits by 2019.

These cruise ships berth at the Port of Cork's deepwater quay in Cobh, which is Ireland's only dedicated berth for cruise ships.

Passenger Ferries

Operating since the late 1970s, Brittany Ferries runs a ferry service to Roscoff in France. This operates between April and November from the Ro-Ro facilities at Ringaskiddy. Previous ferry services ran to Swansea in Wales and Santander in Spain. The former, the Swansea Cork ferry, ran initially between 1987 and 2006 and also briefly between 2010 and 2012.

The latter, a Brittany Ferries Cork–Santander service, started in 2018 but was cancelled in early 2020.

Marine Leisure

The Port of Cork has a strategy that aims to promote the harbour also as a leisure amenity. Cork’s superb natural harbour is a great place to enjoy all types of marine leisure pursuits. With lots of sailing and rowing clubs dotted throughout the harbour, excellent fishing and picturesque harbour-side paths for walking, running or cycling, there is something for everyone to enjoy in and around Cork harbour. The Port is actively involved with the promotion of Cork Harbour's annual Festival. The oldest sailing club in the world, founded in 1720, is the Royal Cork Yacht Club is located at Crosshaven in the harbour, proof positive, says the Port, that the people of Cork, and its visitors, have been enjoying this vast natural leisure resource for centuries. 

Port of Cork Executives

  • Chairman: John Mullins
  • Chief Executive: Brendan Keating
  • Secretary/Chief Finance Officer: Donal Crowley
  • Harbour Master and Chief Operations Officer: Capt. Paul O'Regan
  • Port Engineering Manager: Henry Kingston
  • Chief Commercial Officer: Conor Mowlds
  • Head of Human Resources: Peter O'Shaughnessy