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Keep Kinsale Harbour Clean!

Keep Kinsale Harbour Clean!

Disposal Of Sewage By Visiting Yachts

Writes Leo McMahon

(Pic: John Allen)

Disposal of sewage into Kinsale Harbour by visiting yachts and boats was an issue raised by Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) at the monthly meeting of Cork County Council’s Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District (MD).

He had a motion asking how vessels disposed of sewage when moored and said there was local concern this could be happening in an otherwise immaculate harbour at a time when Kinsale had a costly state-of-the-art sewerage scheme.

MD officer Enda O’Halloran then read out a written reply from harbour master Julian Renault stating that a discharge was recently brought to his attention.

‘Along with the environment section, we are currently investigating and trying to identify the source of the alleged pollution which is believed to be in the Castlepark area’.

Mr Renault referred to international regulations on the matter. ‘Vessels over a certain size (400 gross tonnage or certified to carry more than 12 passengers) are prohibited from discharging sewage into the harbour. Most yachts and small commercial vessels fall outside the remit of the current regulation. From that perspective, they legally can, dispose of waste water into the harbour and this had been the practice for many years in most Irish and European harbours.

‘However,’ he continued, ‘the Port and Harbour of Kinsale Bye-laws 1961 state: no person shall throw, cast or empty in any part of the harbour any oil, acid, sewage, fish or foul offal or other noxious fluid or garbage of any kind whatsoever’. This was reinforced in the County Harbour Bye-laws of 2009 and specifically referred to sewage effluent and bilge water.’

Because of the conflict between local and international regulations, Mr Renault said he would need to seek legal advice on the issue but warned that enforcement of the harbour bye-laws would affect all users regardless of size, type and activity and could affect shore facilities such as boatyards, sailing clubs when it came to washing down boats or dinghies.

The harbour master added that a connection point into Kinsale’s sewerage system was provided on Pier Road near the entrance to the yacht club marina. ‘The installation of a publically available pump-out facility would require the provision of a floating marina similar to the pontoon currently being installed in Schull. However, because of the shallow depths in that area, it would also need to be dredged in order to allow larger vessels to access it at all tides’.

Cllr Murphy welcomed the report. He believed there was no reason nor excuse for any discharges and felt it was behoven on the yacht club and other marinas which collect mooring fees to take the necessary steps and ensure Kinsale was Ireland’s cleanest harbour.

Cathaoirleach Aidan Lombard (FG) seconded but wanted to know if in fact, discharge of sewage was an issue. Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) also supported Cllr Murphy’s motion stressing the need for the harbour, the jewel in the crown of Kinsale tourism, to be pollution free. Cllr Murphy asked that his motion go to the full council as it was an issue concerning other harbours.

Executive engineer Brendan Fehily said the council had spent millions of euro cleaning up its harbours with residents of Castlepark levied up to €12,000 each towards this. He believed the bye-laws were enforceable adding that it was a ‘no brainer’ that the council should get a pipe from the Pier Head to the pumping station at Dennis Quay. He also disagreed with any suggestion of going to the cost of dredging when the port had a modern sewerage system.

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