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European Commission takes Ireland to court over wastewater failures

CTBR Staff Writer Published 16 February 2017

Ireland is being taken to the European Court of Justice for failing to upgrade wastewater treatment infrastructure.

The European Commission (EC) has accused Ireland for not ensuring adequate collection and treatment of waste water in urban areas across 38 agglomerations, saying that it had put human health and the environment at serious risks.

Under the Council Directive 91/271/EEC), towns and cities in the EU member states are obligated to carry out urban waste water collection and treatment. The law was passed by the EU as waste water if left untreated can potentially harm human health besides contaminating lakes, rivers, coastal, soil and groundwater.

Further concerns regarding Ireland’s failure to ensure the correct issuance of operating license for the waste water treatment plants associated with the Arklow and Castlebridge agglomerations were also raised by the EC in its referral decision.

A statement released by the EC in this regard read: “Member States had until the end of 2000 to ensure appropriate treatment of wastewater from large agglomerations (population equivalent (p.e.) of more than 15,000), and until the end of 2005 for discharges from medium-sized agglomerations and discharges to freshwater and estuaries from small agglomerations.

“The Commission initiated the infringement against Ireland in September 2013, followed by warnings in September 2015 and September 2016.”

The EC through a recent report said that one of the major challenges faced by Ireland is maintaining the key investments needed for water services in the wake of an urgent requirement to inject money for improving water infrastructure.

In another development, the EC has given final warnings to the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain for failing to check on frequent breaches of air pollution limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).