At a sitting of the District Court held at Cavan Courthouse on Thursday, 23rd June 2016, Judge Denis McLoughlin convicted Glan Agua of the discharge of deleterious matter to the Laragh River, Co. Cavan, on dates between 12th – 14th August 2015. In addition to the fine of €4,000, the company was directed to pay legal costs and expenses to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) amounting to a total of €63,352.94, including €59,262.94 towards appropriate mitigation measures.
Glan Agua of Railway House, Station Road, Loughrea, Co. Galway, were prosecuted by IFI following investigations into a fish kill on the Laragh River which took place as a result of the discharge of Sodium Hypochlorite from Knockataggert drinking water treatment plant in August 2015.
Judge McLoughlin heard evidence from Ms Ailish Keane, Senior Fisheries Environmental Officer with IFI, that following receipt of a fish kill report from a member of the public on Wednesday 12th August 2015, IFI carried out detailed investigations on the Laragh River over a number of days. It was established that in excess of 3,000 fish including brown trout, minnow, stone loach, eel and stickleback had been killed over a distance of six kilometres from a surface water outfall at the Clifferna Bridge to just below Drumgur Bridge.
Giving details of sampling and analysis undertaken, Ms Keane confirmed the discharge from the surface water pipeline to the Laragh River was characterised by seriously elevated levels of Sodium Hypochlorite otherwise known as Chlorine. She said that on the morning of 13th August 2015, she visited the Knockataggert drinking water treatment plant at Clifferna, Co. Cavan.
Ms Keane noted that there was a serious fish kill and that there had been a spill of Sodium Hypochlorite on the premises that had subsequently discharged into a surface water pipe that later flows directly into the Laragh River. On instruction, staff from Glan Agua immediately completed the clean-up of the discharge and prevented all remaining effluent residues from entering the watercourse. Glan Agua staff were found to be fully cooperative at all times during the investigation.
Legal representatives for Glan Agua, who told Judge Mcloughlin their client pleaded guilty in the matter, noted his client’s pristine record prior to this incident. He said that a director of the company was present in court and the employee who presided over the plant on the date the incident took place had been severely reprimanded.
Extensive evidence was given by Ms Keane regarding the extent of investigations undertaken as a result of this significant pollution incident. The court was told it would take years for the river to regenerate itself to the condition it was in previous to the incident. Judge McLoughlin stated he could not stress the seriousness of the situation enough prior to handing down the sentence.
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has a confidential hotline number to enable members of the general public to report incidents - 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24. This phone line is designed to encourage the reporting of incidents of illegal fishing, water pollution and invasive species.
For more information, visit www.fisheriesireland.ie