Dáil Éireann - Volume 281 - 27 May, 1975

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Suir Anti-Pollution Association.

66. Mr. Davern asked the Minister for Local Government the results of his recent meeting with the River Suir Anti-Pollution Association; and the steps he has since taken or intends to take in the matter.

Mr. Tully: I explained at this meeting, which was concerned mainly with arrangements for control of water pollution with particular reference to the River Suir, that it is a matter for local authorities to investigate instances of pollution and to initiate appropriate remedial measures. In this connection I was glad to inform the deputation that I had approved of contract documents for a sewerage scheme, including new treatment works, for Thurles.

With regard to the general arrangements for control of water pollution, various measures are being pursued to improve the situation, including the preparation of new legislation which, as I indicated to the deputation, is at an advanced stage.

[854] Mr. J. Gibbons: Could I ask the Minister whether having regard to the plans for the establishment of new heavy chemical manufacturing industries in the Suir Valley between Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir, special measures will be taken by his Department to ensure that pollution of the River Suir is not allowed to take place?

Mr. Tully: Yes. I propose to ensure that as far as possible pollution will not be allowed, but I want to say here, as I told the deputation, that it is primarily a matter for the local authority to monitor all these cases. We cannot know from the Custom House and the sending down of an inspector every so often is not the way to do it. Those on the ground should be able at least to know what is happening and they will get full support from my Department in any matter in which we can give assistance.

Mr. J. Gibbons: Does the Minister feel that the local authorities concerned have adequate personnel and adequate equipment to monitor complicated pollution and pollutants from chemical plants?

Mr. Tully: I have no evidence that they have not.

Mr. J. Gibbons: I do not think county councils have this equipment or personnel.

Mr. Tully: All county councils would not need the equipment or personnel because this is something new. I am sure county councils would acquire the equipment and personnel if they need them. I would be prepared to sanction anything which I consider is necessary for the purpose of ensuring that it will not be polluted.

Mr. J. Gibbons: Does it not seem to indicate that the type of personnel required would be biologists or organic chemists and such people are not now on county council staffs?

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is getting into a different area.

Mr. Tully: This is something new and, as far as we are concerned, we [855] hope to ensure that whatever is required, not alone in the Suir valley but anywhere else, will be supplied. This is a matter primarily for the local authority.

Mr. J. Gibbons: Would the Minister not agree that the time to take action on this question of potential pollution is before it happens?

Mr. Tully: Of course, and the necessary steps have been taken in the planning permission to ensure this is being monitored. That is why I said this is a matter for the local authority.