Developer ‘falsified’ pollution reports from County Limerick housing estate

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

A DEVELOPER who is being prosecuted by Limerick County Council has admitted responsibility for a pollution spill at a housing estate in Kildimo earlier this year, while one of its directors has also admitted to creating falsified pollution reports.

A DEVELOPER who is being prosecuted by Limerick County Council has admitted responsibility for a pollution spill at a housing estate in Kildimo earlier this year, while one of its directors has also admitted to creating falsified pollution reports.

Keelgrove Construction Ltd, with a company address at Parkroe, Ardnacrusha, and company director Richard McMahon appeared in court in Newcastle West charged with breaches of waster water treatment legislation at a housing development at Ballyvareen, Kildimo between October 15, 2011 and February 20 this year.

The court heard that on February 14 a private waste water treatment plant which was built to service all 63 houses in the estate failed, allowing untreated effluent to escape into a nearby drain.

Mr McMahon, meanwhile, admitted to submitting falsified pollution reports from the treatment plant to the county council.

Samantha Gibbons, assistant engineer with the council environment department, told the court that under the terms of its planning permission in 2007 Keelgrove was required to build a separate waste water treatment plant for the site, and also provide quarterly samples of discharged sewage, which must be independently lab tested.

However Ms Gibbons told the court that on February 14, the treatment plant broke down and allowed a large amount of raw effluent to escape into an adjoining drain.

Pictures of the aftermath of the spill were produced in court.

Ms Gibbons also stated that Mr McMahon submitted to the council “falsified” test results which claimed to be lab-approved, but in fact were not.

The court heard that when contacted, the lab which carries out the tests said that it had not received any samples from Keelgrove since May 2011.

Solicitor Will Leahy, prosecuting, said that this was a “quite serious offence”.

Ms Gibbons said that a site inspection on May 21 found that the plant is now back operating as normal, but new test results show that the level of pollution coming from the plant is almost five times the legal limit.

Solicitor Eileen Whelan, defending, said that Mr McMahon and the company are taking steps to rectify the problem. Ms Whelan said that Mr McMahon was prepared to give an undertaking in court to de-sludge the pant “this week”, and take new test samples “three or four days later”.

Regarding the falsified lab reports, Ms Whelan said that it was not her client’s intention to “mislead and misguide” the council.

Mr McMahon, giving evidence, gave an undertaking to de-sludge the plant, take new test samples, engage in regular monitoring of effluent and comply with the full terms of the waste water licence.

Mr Leahy warned Mr McMahon that if he fails to do so, “there will be serious consequences”.

Judge Mary O’Halloran adjourned the case until July 3.