Irish Water has pleaded guilty to contaminating a conservation area of an endangered mussel species along the Brogeen river is Co. Cork.
The prosecution, which was brought by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), went before the Dublin District Court today.
Irish Water admitted to eight counts of breaching the terms of its licence in connection with levels of ammonia and orthophosphate from a wastewater treatment plant in Boherbue.
The freshwater pearl mussel was being protected in a conservation area where the plant discharges.
The freshwater pearl mussel, which is an important species, is mainly found in Ireland and Scotland and is close to extinction.
EPA inspector Patrick Chan agreed with prosecution solicitor JP McDowell that upgrade work on the plant was required and set to be completed by the end of 2014 but the deadline was pushed back to 2019 and then 2021.
Irish Water had already received a €4,000 fine for not having the Boherbue plant rebuilt on time.
It’s now understood through a new update that the plant’s work will be finished by the year 2024.
The ammonia levels of what was being discharged into the river were not supposed to exceed 0.5mg per litre, however, it has been seven times over that limit for the past four years.
Additionally, there were five times the set limit of orthophosphate discharged into the river, severely impacting the freshwater pearl mussel.
Judge Halpin ruled that a temporary filter should be installed at the plant while warning Irish Water that it was getting one last chance to fix the issue at the treatment plant.
The case has been adjourned until January 31st.
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