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Displaying items by tag: pollution

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

This past weekend’s discharge of wastewater in the River Liffey from the Irish Water treatment plant in Ringsend is being investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

As RTÉ News reports, failure of a processing tank at the locally controversial site led to the overflow, which Irish Water confirmed was from an outfall 1km from the plant in the Lower Liffey Estuary in Dublin Bay, around 9am on Saturday (23 February).

Irish Water says the discharge of ‘activated sludge’ — which “does not pose the same risk to public health or the environment as a raw sewage discharge would” — lasted for around 20 minutes.

But drone images captured on Saturday evening showed the persistence and extent of the pollution incident beside the Great South Wall.

The Ringsend wastewater treatment plant is reportedly running at 20% above capacity as it treats two-fifths of all wastewater in Ireland.

As such, its standard discharge “does not comply with the Urban Wastewater Treatment requirements”, according to an Irish Water statement which also confirmed that the EPA conducted an audit of the affected site yesterday (Tuesday 26 February).

Published in Dublin Bay

The scourge of bow stickers stuffing rubbish bins and polluting waters the world over could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new biodegradable variant.

YachtRacing.life reports on the new stickers from race boat supplier PROtect Tapes, made from bioplastic film and designed to be durable enough for regattas of seven to 10 days.

There is also an existing short-term bow sticker for shorter events made of paper from sugar cane cellulose.

Both are made of compostable materials so they can go in the brown bin straight after racing — but if they come off while on the water they will degrade completely within a year.

The development will be good news for Martin Byrne and his fellow Dragon sailors, who raised the issue of plastic pollution from bow stickers at Volvo Cork Week this past summer.

Published in Racing

#Safety - Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has posted a safety advisory for swimmers in Dun Laoghaire over an incident of plastic pollution between the West Pier and the Forty Foot.

According to the local authority, “small strips of plastic” that have washed ashore in recent days may be present in bathing waters.

While the plastic poses no chemical danger, it could be a nuisance or at worst a physical risk to swimmers.

As The Irish Times reports, contractors working on the redevelopment of the Dun Laoghaire baths site are launching a clean-up operation in the affected area after “a quantity of fibres” was washed into the water during a concrete pour.

It follows community efforts led by local environmental hero Flossie Donnelly, who recently donated a second Seabin for cleaning surface debris in Dun Laoghaire Harbour to the National Yacht Club.

Published in Dublin Bay

The Riptide Movement’s Plastic Oceans is a three-part web series that hopes to add to the urgent and important debate about how to solve the global plastic crisis and the devastating effect it is having on our marine life.

The Clean Coasts programme took Dublin rock band The Riptide Movement along the incredible Irish coastline and met with some of Ireland’s leading marine biologists, researchers, campaigners and Clean Coasts volunteers to discover the real impacts of plastic in our oceans and what it means for the future of all life on our planet, including us.

The Clean Coasts programme engages communities in the protection of Ireland's beaches, seas and marine life and currently has over 650 volunteer groups working along our Irish coastline, carrying out beach cleans and coastal protection work.

The band also visit a number of locations leading the way in tackling plastic waste including University College Cork, a Green Campus awarded site; chatted with Amanda Byram at the launch of Sky Ocean Rescue in Ireland; and sat down with the Minister for Housing, Planning & Local Government Eoghan Murphy to see what actions the government are taking and what can be done to address the issue at policy level.

Regarding wildlife, a visit to Ireland’s only seal sanctuary and a panel discussion with filmmaker Sophie Darlington highlights the impact our love of plastic is having on our marine animals.

The result is a web series aptly titled ‘The Riptide Movement’s Plastic Oceans’. Narrated by Jerry Fish, this web series highlights the extent of the plastic crisis in Ireland in an informative, artistic and engaging way, whilst also showcasing the small changes we can make to help stem the tide of single use plastics.

Talking about the web series and the bands’ collaboration with Clean Coasts, lead singer Malachy Tuohy said: “We hope this web series and our music can help raise more awareness around one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time.

“Our reliance on single use plastics is destroying our oceans, a reality so poignantly highlighted by David Attenborough in Blue Planet 2. Through our web series we wanted to learn about the issue of plastic pollution here in Ireland and what small changes we can make to help stem the tide of single use plastics.

“Our oceans are drowning in plastic and it is not the legacy we want our generation to be remembered for.”

Speaking about the web series, Clean Coasts manager Sinead McCoy said: “Litter and particularly marine litter has a huge long term negative impact on our environment. Raising public awareness is incredibly important when it comes to reducing marine litter which we see washing up on our coastline on a daily basis.

“So, the Clean Coasts programme is delighted The Riptide Movement are using their influence to bring attention to not only the issue of marine litter but the incredible work being done by Clean Coasts groups and our Clean Coasts stakeholders.”

For more information on how to get involved in Clean Coasts programme see cleancoasts.org

Published in Environment

#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

#CoastalNotes - Wet wipes are “in abundance” around the Irish coastline as the annual Coastwatch Survey draws to a close this week.

According to RTÉ News, citizen science volunteers taking part in the ‘eco-audit’ of Ireland’s coasts — which has been extended to this Sunday 21 October -- have found “long ropes” of the non-degradable wipes scattered on beaches and around rocks.

“We need an awareness campaign so that people understand why wipes are a problem and that they should not be flushing them away,” said Karin Dubsky of Coastwatch.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Seabin - Ards and North Down Borough Council wants to bring in the Seabin to help clean up the coastline of the Ards Peninsula, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The council plans to purchase 10 of the devices — which capture floating debris in harbours and marinas — in what’s being touted as a first for Northern Ireland.

Earlier this year, Dun Laoghaire Harbour in Dublin saw the installation of its first Seabin thanks to the campaigning efforts of local girl Flossie Donnelly.

It’s hoped that the move by Ards councillors will see further take up around the Northern Irish coast.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Microplastic - The West of Ireland is one of only three sites sampled out of 75 during the Volvo Ocean Race with no trace of microplastic particles.

South of Australia and east of Argentina were the other sites found clear of microplastic in findings that give a clear mandate for positive and decisive action from national governments, international organisations, business and individuals to stop plastic polluting our seas.

The most recent data collected, before the race finale in The Hague, by scientific devices on board Team AkzoNobel and Turn the Tide on Plastic found particularly high levels of microplastics — 224 particles per cubic metre — in Skagerrak, a 150-mile strait that runs between Norway, Sweden and Denmark where the outflow from the Baltic Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean.

The highest levels of microplastic — 349 particles per cubic metre — were found in a sample taken in the South China Sea that feeds into the Kuroshio Current and the North Pacific Gyre.

The second highest, at 307 particles per cubic metre, came close from the point where the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet at the Strait of Gibraltar.

Even close to Point Nemo, the furthest place from land on Earth, where the nearest humans are on the International Space Station, between nine and 26 particles of microplastic per cubic metre were recorded.

The seawater samples were collected during the course of the 45,000-nautical-mile, eight-month race which passed six continents and 12 landmark host cities. The race began in Alicante last October, finishing in The Hague in June.

Anne-Cecile Turner, sustainability programme leader for the Volvo Ocean Race, said: “We have used a sporting event to collect groundbreaking scientific data to provide a global map of microplastics concentrations — even finding them in some of the remotest places on Earth. 


“Our ambition is that the data will provide a new benchmark for our understanding of the spread of these ubiquitous particles and offer a template for future scientific methodology.

“With the continuation of the sustainability programme, we will continue our mission to inspire, engage and act as a pioneer, with the aim of restoring ocean health.”

Dr Toste Tanhua of the GEOMAR Institute for Ocean Research Kiel, funded by the Cluster of Excellence Future Ocean, analysed the preliminary microplastics data at their laboratory in Kiel, Germany.

The data has since been uploaded to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) database where scientists are able to access it open source.

VOR Microplastic world map

Dr Tanhua said the Volvo Ocean Race Science Programme “has contributed enormously to the understanding of microplastic contribution around the world, and has contributed to a global map of CO2 uptake by the oceans. The race has showed that the race yachts and sailors can be excellent science supporters.”

The boats also collect other oceanographic data measurements including temperature, dissolved CO2, salinity and algae content (as chlorophyll a) that gives an indication of levels of ocean health and acidification and supports quantification of the ocean’s uptake of carbon dioxide.

In parallel, 30 scientific drifter buoys deployed during the race are transmitting data that is essential for forecasting of weather and climate changes, in both the short and long term. This is being utilised by the World Meteorological Organisation and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

The Volvo Ocean Race Science Programme is funded by Volvo Cars, which is donating €100 from the first 3,000 sales of the new Volvo V90 Cross Country Volvo Ocean Race edition to support the initiative.

Microplastics are often invisible to the naked eye and can take thousands of years to degrade. By collecting information on their levels, the science programme is helping scientists gain insight into the scale of plastic pollution and its impact on marine life.

To build upon the programme’s sustainability achievements, it will be embedded at the heart of the race going forward. And in the run up to the next edition, the programme will continue to organise a range of international Ocean Summits, further expand the education programme and continue to pioneer a scientific programme focussing on ocean plastic.

It will also collaborate with a range of innovative partners, including 11th Hour Racing and UN Environment, to help deliver a lasting legacy and drive real change for a healthy planet.

Since the end of the latest race, the sustainability programme convened a workshop with key global stakeholders from science, academia, the private sector and other institutions, including UN Environment and Mirpuri Foundation, to identify the gaps to fill in order to advance our understanding of these issues and to align our missions.

Fiona Ball, head of responsible business at Sky Ocean Rescue, said: “The data that Turn the Tide on Plastic collected throughout Volvo Ocean Race highlights the critical state of our oceans. By supporting the Turn the Tide on Plastic yacht, Sky Ocean Rescue aims to raise awareness and inspire everyone to make simple, everyday changes to stop our oceans from drowning in plastic. We can all play our part and turn off the plastic tap, now is the time for fundamental change to protect our planet.”

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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