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Ireland’s Changing Climate To Result In Economic & Social Impacts

Ireland’s changing climate projected to result in wide ranging economic and societal impacts

“Observations of the atmosphere, oceans and land show that Ireland’s climate is changing. The observed scale and rate of change is similar to global trends. These changes are projected to continue and increase over the coming decades,” said Dr Margaret Desmond, lead author of one of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) research reports being launched today at the EPA Seminar on Climate Change Research.

Commenting on a report entitled ‘A Summary of the State of Knowledge on Climate Change Impacts for Ireland’, Ms Laura Burke, Director General, EPA, stated, “Ireland needs to prepare for the local impacts of global climate change. The ‘State of Knowledge Report’ provides an important overview of projected impacts for key economic, social and environmental sectors. This type of information helps us to plan for a climate resilient future. Ireland is also committed to large scale de-carbonisation of electricity generation, transport and residential heating by 2050. This is a necessary contribution to addressing the causes of climate change, as is enhancing the uptake to carbon in our forests and soils. Valuable insights on addressing these challenges are contained in the other reports also being launched today.”

Dr Margaret Desmond, University College Cork, lead author of the state of knowledge report stated, “The first State of Knowledge Report on climate change was published in 2009. Today the impacts of global climate change for Ireland are clearer and more compelling. Trends are apparent in the temperature, precipitation records as well as in sea level rise and changing ecosystems. Climate projections indicate that these trends will continue but uncertainties remain on the details. The effectiveness of global actions to limit the extent of global climate change remains a key uncertainty.”

The report highlights that a range of adaptation options exist. These can reduce vulnerability and build resilience to a changing climate. Planned management of the associated impacts is necessary to reduce their adverse impacts in a cost-effective manner.

Ms Laura Burke said, “Research plays a key role in increasing our understanding of ongoing changes and in informing responses. Adaptation is a necessary component of Ireland’s response to climate change to protect communities, manage risks from climate impacts, and strengthen the resilience of the economy. Adaptation actions to reduce our vulnerability to the impacts of climate change need to make sense from an economic and environmental perspective and to contribute to our sustainable development. Substantial reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases are also needed – in Ireland, Europe and globally – if we are to achieve the Paris Agreement goals and limit the rate and extent of climate change to a manageable level.”

The other research reports being launched, aim to inform mitigation actions and explore synergies between actions to address air quality and climate change.


Half Of Septic Tanks Failed Local Authority Inspection

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), home owners need to take action to protect themselves, their families and their neighbours from risks posed by septic tanks.

  • Half of all septic tanks, failed local authority inspections in 2016, posing a potential health risk to home owners and their neighbours
  • Half of sites with a septic tank and a private drinking water well on site, also failed inspection.
  • Quarter (25%) of septic tanks failed due to owners not removing sludge build-up from their tanks, an issue that can be easily rectified by home owners.

The Environmental Protection Agency today released a review of the implementation of the National Inspection Plan for Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems for the period 1st January to 31st December 2016. The National Inspection Plan is being implemented by local authorities under the supervision of the EPA.

The review shows that 49 per cent of septic tanks failed inspection in 2016, up from 45 per cent in 2015. Septic tank failures were mainly due to a lack of proper operation and maintenance. The failure by home owners to maintain and operate a septic tank system adequately can pose a health and environmental risk through the pollution of private drinking water wells or water courses. Many septic tank owners source their water from their own private well.

Commenting on the results Mr. Darragh Page, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said, “Home owners may be putting themselves, their families and their neighbours at risk of ill health if they do not maintain their septic tank system adequately. There are simple steps that home owners can take to ensure their system is managed properly and will pass an inspection. These include: having the sludge emptied from the tank on a regular basis, using a permitted contractor and retaining the receipt and, if the home owner has a package treatment system, having it regularly serviced and keeping a record of servicing.”

By taking these simple steps home owners can protect themselves and their environment from contamination.
The results of the review of the 2016 inspection plan are available on the EPA’s website.


Tomorrow, November 7th, Is ‘European Radon Day’

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls on home owners to test their dwellings for cancer-causing Radon Gas.

(1) Radon is a radioactive, cancer-causing gas.
(2) Radon is the second greatest cause of lung cancer, after smoking.
(3) Some 250 lung cancer cases each year, here in Ireland, are linked to the exposure to Radon.
(4) It is easy and inexpensive to test your home for Radon Gas.
(5) It is easy to reduce Radon levels in your home.

On European Radon Day, 7th November, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are calling on all householders to test their homes for this cancer-causing radioactive gas. Radon is second only to smoking as the leading cause of lung cancer. It is estimated that some 250 lung cancer cases each year, here in Ireland, are linked to Radon Gas exposure.

Radon comes from rocks and soils and can get into your home through the small cracks and openings in the foundations of a house or indeed the gaps around service pipes. Because Radon has no colour, taste or smell; the only way to know how much radon is in your home is to take a simple radon test.

The test costs about €50 and can be ordered from one of the services registered with the EPA. Two small detectors, about the size of a biscuit, are delivered to you by post and placed in your home. After three months, they are then posted back to the laboratory, where they are analysed to see how much Radon they have been exposed to. The results are then posted back to you.

More than 62,000 homes in Ireland have been tested for Radon so far. If you haven’t already done so, the EPA would urge you to protect your family’s health by taking this simple and inexpensive test as soon as possible. So far, the EPA have identified almost 8,800 homes with levels of Radon above the acceptable level – some homes have had extremely high levels.

The good news is that Radon is easy to test and simple solutions are available to reduce high levels where necessary.


Ireland’s Environment & Public Health Is At Risk

River Suir, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

According to Environmental Protection Agency Ireland (EPA), the failure to address waste water deficiencies causes an unacceptable risk to not just Ireland’s environment but also to Ireland’s public health.

Waste water treatment at 50 of Ireland’s 185 large towns and cities fail to comply with standards set to prevent pollution and protect public health.
Sewage from the equivalent of 120,000 people across 44 areas still enters the environment untreated each day. Plans to install treatment at some of these areas is delayed by up to three years and most will not be completed until 2021.
Four bathing water areas were deemed unsafe for swimming due to health risks caused by sewage.

The EPA report on Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2016, released today, highlights the need for significant funding to address the legacy of underinvestment in infrastructure needed to collect and treat our waste water effectively. The report finds that treatment is inadequate in many areas.
Commenting on the report Mr Gerard O’Leary, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said,

“Waste water from over half our population failed to meet environmental standards. For many years Ireland has failed to address the deficiencies in waste water treatment. Substantial and sustained investment is now required to protect our valuable waterways and protect public health.”

Environmental Priorities

Here in Co. Tipperary, Mullinahone, Roscrea, and Thurles are all regarded as areas where improvements are required to resolve environmental priorities, with Thurles cited as an example of a large Urban Area where the collection and treatment of urban waste water is not meeting European Union standards.

Waste water is one of the principal threats to water quality in Ireland. The EPA identifies the this thteat as a priority area where resources must be targeted to bring environmental improvements where they are most needed.

50 large towns and cities where waste water treatment failed to meet EU standards. This includes Dublin, which needs a major upgrade of Ringsend treatment plant.

44 areas discharging untreated sewage. Counties Cork and Donegal account for nearly half of these areas. Five areas currently discharging untreated waste water are expected to be connected to treatment plants by the end of 2017. These areas are Youghal, Belmullet, Rush, Bundoran and Killybegs.

59 areas where waste water is the sole threat to rivers, lakes and coastal waters that are at risk of not achieving good status. Almost one quarter of these are in Counties Donegal and Galway.

4 areas where waste water contributed to poor quality bathing water. The affected beaches include Merrion Strand and Loughshinny Beach.

12 areas where improvements are needed to protect critically endangered freshwater pearl mussels in rivers such as the Blackwater and the Nore.

3 areas where disinfection of waste water is required to safeguard shellfish habitats.

Mr Darragh Page, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement commented that;

“Ireland’s environment is at risk because waste water is not treated to the necessary standards, even though the final deadline to meet these standards was 2005. New or upgraded treatment systems are required in some areas. In other areas, there is already sufficient treatment capacity in place, but the management of the treatment systems needs to improve.


Ireland In Line For Further Wind Storms

“Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!”

Extract from the play ‘King Lear’ – by William Shakespeare.

Having endured storm ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Brian’, in recent days, Ireland could be in line for a further brutalising wind pommelling, as forecasters predict that we can expect threats from storms named ‘Hector’, ‘Octavia’, ‘Tali’ and ‘Winifred’, all due in the coming months.

Names for the Wind Storm Season – 2017/18 – Ireland & UK 

Aileen; Brian; Caroline; Dylan; Eleanor; Fionn; Georgina; Hector; Iona; James; Karen; Larry; Maeve; Niall; Octavia; Paul; Rebecca; Simon; Tali; Victor, and Winifred.

Names for the Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Season – 2017 – United States

Arlene; Bret; Cindy; Don; Emily; Franklin; Gert; Harvey; Irma; Jose; Katia; Lee; Maria; Nate; Ophelia; Philippe; Rina; Sean; Tammy; Vince, and Whitney.

To be granted a name, a storm must give rise to either a ‘Status Orange’ or ‘Status Red’ weather warning. Some 21 names are chosen from suggestions submitted by the public; sent to the United Kingdom and to Met Éireann, jointly. One name is picked for each letter of the alphabet, (apart from Q, U, X, Y and Z).  Each categorised storm is then named according to the agreed list, having been alternated between genders and before being ordered alphabetically, e.g. Aileen; Brian; Caroline, Dylan etc.

Front Line Repair Crews and Contractors

In the wake of storm ‘Ophelia’, ESB repair crews made up of some 2,500 persons and some 1,000 contractors were mobilised to report to their local depots to engage with 6,000 separate locations requiring repairs, with an unprecedented 385,000 homes and business premises, devoid of power. Crews mustered at 6.30am each morning at their depots, working until 10.00pm each night. Hot breakfasts were supplied by Caterers to feed those assembled before going out. Many cancelled holiday leave to meet the needs of the emergency.
An extra 250 crew members were brought in from Northern Ireland, Scotland, France and the UK.
Priority was given to essential services, e.g. Water treatment plants, Health networks and Garda services; all backed up by the Irish army.

To all persons involved on the front line goes our thanks.