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Company pleads guilty to allowing high concentrations of silt into west Cork river

A contractor company has been fined €4,000 after pleading guilty to allowing high concentrations of silt into a river in West Cork.

Daytona Contractors Ltd of Gullane in Clonakilty pleaded guilty to two charges in a prosecution brought by Inland Fisheries Ireland.

IFI officer Patricia O’Connor said on March 30 last she received a call about discolourisation of the Argideen River near Timoleague.

Argideen River. File image

She found a small stream contaminated with silt and traced it upstream to a site covered by a waste permit issued by Cork County Council.

She said material such as gravel and cement were being brought there, where they were to be in-filled and the area levelled off.

However, she said the material was being dumped on a slope and a stream of water was flowing through this slope, bringing silt with it.

Signage at the entrance outlined how the site was being managed by Daytona and Ms O’Connor said she contacted the company’s managing director who arrived there shortly afterwards.

Ms O’Connor said effectively there had been a “landslip”, with the water flowing into the Argideen which has sea trout and salmon in it. She also said the small stream where she first noted the silty content was a spawning stream.

She took samples: one, from above the site, was clear; another, at the site, showed a suspended solids level of 680mg per litre of water and the third sample 300 meters downstream had a suspended solids level of 993 mg/L.

“It was highly contaminated with silt,” Ms O’Connor said.

The company pleaded guilty to causing or permitting polluting matters to enter waters contrary to the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act and also to permitting or causing deleterious matter to fall into waters contrary to the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act. Another charge was withdrawn.

Barrister for Daytona Contractors Ltd, Mahon Corkery, said the activity on-site on the day was in compliance with the licence that had been issued and that two issues had been at play.

The first was the gradient was too severe and this has been rectified to change it from a 45 degree slope to a 30 degree slope. The second issue was the drainage of the surface water and the concrete pipes that were in place that day had simply failed to carry the rainwater.

Mr Corkery said the issue on the day was inadvertent rather than intentional and €40,762 in remedial works had been carried out since.

Judge Mary Dorgan said it was a serious situation. She fined the company €2,500 on the first charge and €1,500 on the second charge. The company was also to pay agreed costs of €3,447.