The spewing of raw sewage in an area of special conservation has been condemned by local Fianna Fáil Councillor, Aengus O’Rourke.
“As soon as I was informed about this pipe spewing raw sewage across the Big Meadow on the banks of the River Shannon I had to see it to believe it.
“When I arrived at the scene the pipe was gushing sewage across the land. This area is regularly used by the locals and townspeople as a popular walking route. The entire area is a designated special area of conservation. The pipe was located approximately just 30 yards from the edge of the River Shannon and also approximately 150 yards from the Bastion Quay apartments.”
“Without being too graphic, it was immediately obvious to me that this temporary pipe was carrying raw sewage,” Cllr. O’Rourke noted.
Cllr. O’Rourke detailed is horror at what was before him with further detrimental impact on the local environment.
“I was horrified. Here we go again, another assault on our environment and on our river by reckless, careless individuals. Last year we had a significant oil spill in the river and now this, what is next?
“I informed Westmeath County Council as soon as I learned of the issue. They immediately sent staff from water services to the site. Apparently, a mains problem occurred at or close to the town treatment plant and this pipe was a ‘quick fix’ allegedly by a contractor working in the area.
“The pipe was quickly turned off soon after and a team from the Council and Irish Water were on site working to repair the fault.”
“In this day and age it is unbelievable to think that anybody would still consider this behaviour or this kind of action ‘acceptable’ on any level! If the fault was in town would they run a pipe down our main street and pump away?
“The relevant authorities, whether it’s the Council, Inland Fisheries, Waterways Ireland, Parks and Wildlife or maybe all of them, need to get to the bottom of this issue, find out who the culprits are, fine them and get them to make good the area, as much as this is possible after the event.
“This issue also highlights the issues we have in Athlone in terms of our poor sewage and waste water infrastructure (not to mention water ). We need a new and expanded treatment plant for the town that will future proof us for decades to come. We also need a main drainage scheme to go ahead and eliminate our combined waste water & sewage problems, and also do away with all waste discharge points into the river.
“In the meantime we need to get to the bottom of this current fiasco,” Cllr. O’Rourke asserted.