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EPA Issues Licence to Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a waste water discharge licence for the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). The licence has been issued to Dublin City Council (lead authority) and the joint applicants Fingal County Council, South Dublin County Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Meath County Council.

Its interesting to note that the EPA is essentially requiring the immediate upgrading of the plant to be completed by 2015. This and the requirement to discontinue discharges at Doldrum Bay and the Nose of Howth might make for an argument not to licence the facility until the issues around the plant are resolved. The EPA is required not to licence a facility where significant environmental impact is occurring.

For residents of the area the single most significant issue is odour and the EPA is excluded from dealing with this issue under the legislation. It appears that the integrated approach to licensing industry will not apply to licensing local authority waste water treatment plants which is a nice out for all concerned!

The primary discharge from Ringsend WWTP is to the Liffey Estuary. In 2001 the Liffey Estuary was designated as a sensitive area. This legislation requires that discharges of waste water have Total N concentrations < 10 mg/l from May 2008. The agreement between DCC and the operator of the plant requires the ammonia limit (a portion of Total N) to be < 18.75 mg/l. The plant commenced operations in 2003. This is obviously a problem.

During April/May 2008 the average loading to the plant was 192% of its design capacity. The plant obviously needs upgrading or an alteration (most probably extension) of the primary discharge point.