Fears that diesel laundering waste being burnt is creating bad smell in Dundalk

Cllr Declan Breathnach

Cllr Declan Breathnach

Local councillor Declan Breathnach has asked Louth County Council to investigate the strong smell of diesel that has been prominent in Dundalk and Knockbridge for the past few days.

The bad smell from the fumes has led to a number of complaints to the council, with Talk of the Town also receiving numerous queries about it from the public.

The smell is said to be particularly strong between Knockbridge and Dundalk and on the Ardee Road.

Cllr Breathnach told LMFM he was concerned that oil laundering waste was being burned.

“Over the last number of days there has been a strong pungent smell in the vicinity of Knockbridge, and indeed stretching in to Dundalk, of diesel.”

The Fianna Fáil councillor said he was aware of reports that fuel launderers had been spreading the waste along roadsides to get rid of the toxic sludge but expressed his fears that this problem was bigger.

“This is such a widespread that I believe the product is being burned off because the pungent smell is not just in one area but in a series of areas.”

Louth County Council to investigate reports of contamination to Dundalk water supply

Contaminated water pictured in a stream outside Castleblayney last week by The Sunday Independent

Contaminated water pictured in a stream outside Castleblayney last week by The Sunday Independent

Following this morning’s monthly meeting of the council, Louth Local Authorities have issued a press statement regarding Dundalk’s water supply.

A newspaper article yesterday claimed that the town’s water was being contaminated as a result of fuel launderers pouring toxic waste into rivers.

However, in a statement released just before lunchtime, the council said that they carried out regular sampling which was “fully compliant”.

They vowed to investigate the claims made in The Sunday Independent though.

The statement read:

“Louth County Council noted media reports yesterday regarding an alleged pollution discharge to Lough Ross in Co Armagh entering the River Fane system which is the source of the drinking water supply for Dundalk.

“Louth County Council on behalf of Irish water has contacted the Water Pollution Inspectorate in Northern Ireland to investigate the alleged incident.

“It is alleged in the media that an oil laundering plant is operating in South Armagh and discharging to a tributary which feeds Lough Ross in Co Armagh.

“The Council carries out regular sampling at various properties throughout the water distribution system for Dundalk. The drinking water sample results for Dundalk Public Water Supply Scheme for 2014 for PAHs is fully compliant with the Drinking Water Regulations and below the 0.1µg/L limit.

“The river water results taken at the Dundalk Water Supply abstraction point on the River Fane during 2014 show COD is less than 40mg/l during the year and therefore compliant with the Quality of Surface Water Intended for the Abstraction of Drinking Water Regulations.

“The drinking water samples for Dundalk Town and Environs have all been compliant with the Drinking Water Regulations 2013 with the exception of  one instance of lead detection. The investigation of this lead non-compliance showed there was no lead on the public side of the public water supply.”

Earlier today, the council also confirmed they would be seeking the Sunday Independent’s evidence of the alleged contamination, which the paper said could cause cancers and abnormalities in unborn babies.

Louth County Council seeking Sunday Independent evidence of water contamination in Dundalk

The matter was discussed at this morning's Louth County Council meeting

The matter was discussed at this morning’s Louth County Council meeting

Louth County Council have moved to ease fears over the safety of Dundalk’s water supply following an article in yesterday’s Sunday Independent which claimed it was being polluted by oil launderers pumping toxic waste into it.

The investigation in yesterday’s paper claimed that to have found evidence of carcinogenic waste flowing from an illegal fuel plant in south Armagh into Lough Muckno, Lough Ross and the River Fane, which is the main reservoir for the whole of Dundalk

A sample of water taken by the newspaper last week was alleged to contain 8,000 times more chemical pollution than clean drinking water.

The matter was high on the agenda at this morning’s meeting of Louth County Council, with officials reporting no such problems last year.

Councillors were told that in 2014 there were no incidents of carcinogenic and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons being found in water at Cavan Hill treatment plant. There was one test that showed concerns regarding lead. In 2014 the world youth fly fishing contest took place on the Fane river and there were no traces of fish kills.

The Sunday Independent has been asked for their materials/evidence which made the basis of their article in yesterday’s paper. No response has been received.

Hat-tip to Tomás Sharkey for the update from the meeting. He added: “Not saying it is false…the right agencies need their evidence to do a full investigation.”

Meanwhile, a vote was passed condemning both the IRA and the fuel smugglers at the meeting after being proposed by Cllr John McGahon.

Commenting on the motion, Cllr McGahon said: “I was delighted that Louth County Council accepted my motion that Louth County Council condemns the actions of the IRA and all fuel launders operating along the border.

“These fuel launderers have now moved into the business of poisoning our local waterways.

“The pollution in our rivers is not caused by high winds or high tides or any other environmental matters, it’s caused by criminal activity, the vast majority of which is conducted by well known republicans in the border region.

“I have always believed in straight talking and to put it mildly, these gangsters are engaged in environmental terrorism. People along the border are fearful of them.

“Last year, Louth County Council  spent €65,000 clearing up toxic sludge disposed on our roadways, now these criminals are dumping in our waterways, but what will it cost the people of County Louth in the long run in terms of health,”he said.

It was also agreed at the meeting that Irish Water and the EPA would report directly to councillors on the quality of water in Dundalk as soon as possible.

Concern over claims Dundalk’s water supply could be polluted by fuel launderers

Contaminated water pictured in a stream outside Castleblayney last week by The Sunday Independent

Contaminated water pictured in a stream outside Castleblayney last week by The Sunday Independent

Louth County Council will meet for the first time this year later this morning with a report that oil launderers are pumping toxic waste into local water supplies set to feature heavily on the agenda.

Yesterday’s Sunday Independent claimed that the fuel smugglers were pumping the fuel laundering waste into local rivers and said it could be causing cancers and abnormalities in unborn babies.

The investigation by Jim Cusack found evidence of carcinogenic waste flowing from an illegal fuel plant in south Armagh into Lough Muckno, Lough Ross and the River Fane, which is the main reservoir for the whole of Dundalk.

A sample of water taken by the newspaper last week was shown to contain 8,000 times more chemical pollution than clean drinking water.

The sample, taken from directly behind the plant, one of dozens used by paramilitary smugglers in south Armagh, is also 400 times over the maximum chemical content of waste set by the European Union and Irish Water.

The toxic waste is being pumped directly into a stream that feeds directly into the River Fane drinking water system.

Around 40,000 people living in Dundalk – plus another 8,000 in Crossmaglen in south Armagh – are drinking water from the system that is being poisoned by the IRA fuel launderers.

Chemicals in the pollution almost certainly include polycyclic hydrocarbons that are linked to cancers and prenatal disorders.

Preliminary analysis has already shown that a chemical-oxygen demand (COD) in the sample taken is 8,000mg per litre. There should be near-zero COD in drinking water for humans.

The level of poison was so high that it was off the normal mid-range tests that are used for drinking water in Ireland.

The most common dangerous compounds found in the diesel washing by-product are polycyclic aromatic hydrocabons (PAH).

Tests done on industrial pollutants containing PAHs by the Centre for Children’s Environmental Health have found that exposure during pregnancy has produced heart malformations, premature delivery and low birth weight. Exposure has also been linked to cancers and developmental under-development among children.

Commenting on the matter, Sinn Féin councillor Tomás Sharkey said the alleged pollution was of “serious concern” to him and all public representatives in Louth.

“Cavan Hill water treatment plant supplies most of Dundalk and much of the surrounding area. It draws water from the Fane River. If the details in the paper are true, there is a chance that the water entering the treatment plant is contaminated. This raises obvious concerns for human health and environmental protection.

“I have contacted the Sunday Independent and have asked that any information gathered for that article be shared with the relevant authorities and have specifically asked that laboratory test results on water samples be shared with the staff of Louth County Council.

“Once again, on behalf of all Sinn Féin Councillors in Louth, I am asking the public to be vigilant for incidents of dumping of diesel laundering waste and and also asking for a new report on the workings of the multi agency approach which was tasked with tackling this problem in 2011.”

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil councillor Declan Breathnach has called on the EPA to investigate the claims made in the paper so that the town can stand over the quality of its water supply once more.

You can read the full Sunday Independent article here.

Labour and Fine Gael expected to lose Louth seats in next General Election


Adrian Kavanagh’s prediction of where the five seats in Louth will go at the next General Election


Labour and Fine Gael could be set to lose seats in the next General Election in Louth.

That’s the view of the country’s leading constituency analyst Adrian Kavanagh, who has been making predictions about what might happen in the next election – scheduled to take place sometime in the next 15 months.

Writing in The Irish Independent, Mr Kavanagh said that Fianna Fáil were “well placed” to retain the seat that is currently held by Seamus Kirk. The former Ceann Comhairle will retire from politics when the current Dáil’s term ends with Kavanagh predicting that one of Declan Breathnach, Liam Reilly or Anthony Moore could gain.

He feels Ged Nash’s Labour seat is “highly vulnerable” and predicted that Fine Gael “could also lose one of their seats” with both Fergus O’Dowd and Peter Fitzpatrick at risk.

He expects Sinn Féin to claim a second seat with Imelda Munster and Tomás Sharkey predicted to be strong running mates for party leader, Gerry Adams.

While he feels Sinn Fein could go close to taking three seats, he feels the third will go to an independent candidate with Maeve Anna Yore and Mark Dearey of the Green Party predicted as potential beneficiaries.

While Gerry Adams topped the poll in Louth in 2011 he was the biggest loser in the first opinion poll of 2015 yesterday.

The Red C survey found that his personal support had fallen by 7% to 27% – making him the most unpopular leader in the country.

Large quantity of oil laundering waste dumped at Stephenstown Pond

Stephenstown PondIt might be a New Year but the area is still having to deal with the old issue of diesel laundering waste being dumped around the county.

Last night one of the largest quantities of oil laundering waste ever discarded in Co Louth was discovered at the entrance to Stephenstown Pond in Knockbridge.

Ten cubes of the toxic sludge were discovered around 10.30pm, with each of the plastic containers containing around 1,000 litres of waste each bringing the total discovery to around 10,000 litres.

Louth County Council contractors have dealt with the matter. Anyone who may have witnessed anything suspicious in the area at the time is asked to contact Dundalk Garda Station.

Last year local councillor Declan Breathnach expressed his concern at the growing number of dumpings at Stephenstown Pond, stressing the potential impact on the wildlife and river if the waste were to leak into the water stream.

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin expected to select General Election candidates in the coming weeks

Cllr Declan Breathnach

Cllr Declan Breathnach is expected to be in the shake up when Fianna Fáil decide a General Election candidate for Louth

With speculation increasing that there may be a General Election early in the New Year, both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin are expected to start selecting their election candidates in the coming weeks.

Fianna Fáil are expected to hold a number of selection conventions as soon as next week with the south west and Dublin starting off the process.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has maintained that the government will go to full term and the election will not take place until spring 2016, but opposition parties believe an autumn 2015 vote is now likely with Fianna Fáil anxious to have all their candidates in place by May at the latest.

Sinn Féin are also expected to work to a similar timetable.

In terms of this year, Gerry Adams is expected to run again for Sinn Féin and is likely to be joined by a running mate in the south of the county with Cllr Imelda Munster the likely frontrunner. This will be a historic moment for the party as it will be the first time they have ran with two General Election candidates in Co Louth.

With Seamus Kirk retiring from politics at the next election, there is a potential Fianna Fáil seat up for grabs. Cllr Declan Breathnach, who ran unsuccessfully in the February 2011 election, is expected to be in the running once again with at least one more candidate expected to compete in the south of the county.

Gardaí believe Knockbridge shooting was a case of mistaken identity

Knockbridge village has now reopened following a technical examination

Knockbridge village has now reopened following a technical examination

Gardaí insist they are satisfied that shots fired at a house in Knockbridge yesterday evening was a case of mistaken identity.

A number of shots were fired at the house from a semi-automatic weapon around 7.30pm.

A woman and a teenager were inside at the time, however no one was injured during the incident.

The Garda Armed Response Unit were quickly on the scene and preserved the scene for a technical examination that took place this morning. The Dundalk-Knockbridge Road had been closed overnight and this morning but has now fully reopened.

Local representatives expressed their shock at the incident, with Fianna Fáil councillor Declan Breathnach telling the Michael Reade Show on LMFM this morning that it was only for the “Grace of God” that no one was injured.

Meanwhile, local TD Seamus Kirk has condemned the shooting.

He said: “This is a despicable attack and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. The community is in complete shock about this. This is an extremely quiet and peaceful village just five miles from Dundalk.

“Gardaí are actively investigating this case and I would hope that the culprits will be brought to justice.”

Gardaí are appealing for anyone who may have noticed a car being driven at speed on the Stephenstown Road around 7.30pm last night to contact them at Dundalk Garda Station or on the Garda Confidential Line.

Five cubes of oil laundering waste dumped at Stephenstown

A previous quantity of toxic diesel sludge being removed from Stephenstown Pond in Knockbridge

A previous quantity of toxic diesel sludge being removed from Stephenstown Pond in Knockbridge

A further five cubes of toxic diesel sludge have been discovered dumped at Stephenstown Pond this morning.

Louth County Council contractors will remove the 5,000 litres later today.

This is one of a series of similar incidents at the popular local amenity with at least half a dozen incidents of the oil laundering waste having been dumped there.

Indeed, Cllr Declan Breathnach has hit out at those responsible before.

Speaking last month he said: “This location is close to a watercourse that flows into the River Fane, which supplies Dundalk and environs with public drinking water. Shame on those responsible for such activities.”

Sinn Féin hit out at €12,000 allowance for Dundalk Municipal District Committee chair

Cllr Jennifer Green has branded the new payments as "disgusting"

Cllr Jennifer Green has branded the new payments as “disgusting”

Sinn Féin have hit out at Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party after the trio voted for a €12,000 allowance to be made available to the chair of the new Dundalk Municiple District committee at a meeting in the Town Hall last night.

The three parties voted in favour of the allowance, which will go firstly to new district chairperson Declan Breathnach.

Sinn Féin and independent TD Maeve Yore voted against the allowance, with Sinn Féin councillors taking to Facebook to hit out at the sum.

Describing the allowance as “shocking” former Dundalk Town Council chair, Jennifer Green said: “With 11 meetings per annum and the meetings lasting just over an hour…..in black and white the chair gets paid just over €1,000 an hour!

“Sinn Fein and an independent voted morally against this insane top up. They’re just creating jobs for the boys. Disgusting!”