There has been fury locally for two months over the leak – but at last week’s meeting of the Mullingar Municipal District Committee (MMDC), councillors were informed that a detailed survey – which included the use of CCTV – has now identified evidence of the source of the contamination.
Those responsible have now been given “a tight timeframe” to carry out remedial works, members were told.
The subject was raised by Cllr Andrew Duncan, who had a motion on the agenda calling on the MMDC to install an oil interceptor at the outflow at the eastern end of Buckley’s carpark. In its formal written response to Cllr Duncan, the MMD stated that Westmeath County Council has been investigating a number of oil pollution events on the River Brosna in Mullingar, most recently in November and again in December 2018.
The reply stated that on each occasion the pollution was tracked back on the surface water system but it was not possible to determine the ultimate source of the unauthorised discharge until January this year when a detailed survey (including CCTV) of private surface water lines identified evidence of the source of the oil contamination.
Long slicks are lying on the surface of the water at various locations along the rout of the waterway, and at times, there is a strong smell, whcih some identify as akin to the smell of the kerosene used in central heating systems.
According to the MMDC, Westmeath County Council remains satisfied that the property owners responsible for the pollution have been identified. “These property owners have been directed to complete the necessary investigations and requisite remedial works within a tight timeframe in the current month,” the reply stated, concluding that to date, the property owners have cooperated fully with this authority.
Cllr Duncan said he was “surprised but happy” that the council has now identified the source of the pollution, given that a party informed him last year that a week-long survey had failed to determine where it was coming from. However, he pointed out, despite the “tight timeframe” while the remedial works are awaited, the oil is flowing straight into Lough Ennell. “I would suggest that if the works are not done witihin the timeframe that we put in an oil interceptor,” he said.