Mr John Gormley, TD, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has welcomed a judgment given by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which dismissed substantial elements of a case brought against Ireland in relation to our compliance with the Groundwater Directive.
In a judgement on an application by the Commission for a declaration that Ireland failed to take to take all the measures necessary under the EU Groundwater Directive (80/68/EEC) of 17 December 1979 in relation to pollution caused by certain dangerous substances at Ballymurtagh landfill in County Wicklow and in relation to indirect discharges from septic tanks generally, the Court found in favour of the Commission in the case of the Ballymurtagh landfill, but dismissed the remainder of the action.
"Landfilling of waste at the Ballymurtagh site has ceased" - the Minister said - "and remedial engineering measures have been put in place to minimise any threat of pollution." The Minister said that officials of his Department will be contacting Commission officials in the coming weeks to discuss what further measures, if any, are needed at this stage.
"Notwithstanding the dismissal of that part of the application seeking a declaration in relation to septic tanks, I am concerned to ensure that measures are taken to prevent pollution of groundwater by effluents from septic tanks and, indeed, generally" - the Minister said.
In relation to the risk of dangerous substances getting into waters, the Minister said that a comprehensive Dangerous Substances Screening Programme - funded by his Department - was underway to establish the prevalence, if any, of over 200 dangerous substances in the context of Irish waters. "Results from this screening programme, as well as a number of reports on Irish water quality, have indicated that dangerous substances are generally not a problem in Irish waters" - he added.
Finally, the Minister reiterated his strong commitment to work with the EU Commission to achieve compliance by Ireland with all our EU obligations in the environment area.