Swimmers warned they could be sucked into Ardnacrusha turbines

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What is now almost a daily occurance in the fine weather young men jump 40 feet into the canal at Ardnacrusha, Clare. Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22

THE ESB has warned that swimming in its reservoirs could have fatal consequences, as soaring temperatures attracted groups of people to canals, lakes, and rivers, as well as the seaside.

A spokesman for the company said it contacted Gardaí last Thursday over concerns for the safety of groups of swimmers who converged near the Ardnacrusha Power Station where swimming is prohibited.

However, over the weekend, youths were observed jumping from a bridge near the power station into the canal, known as the Ardnacrusha headrace and tailrace.

Swimmers can be “sucked” towards giant underwater turbines at the power station, and drown, an ESB spokesman warned.

“We remain vigilant to this dangerous activity,” said the spokesperson.

“We are aware of incidents in and around Ardnacrusha this week. We have issued a reminder warning on all our reservoirs and appreciate getting the message out.”

“Reservoirs are inherently dangerous as there are so many hidden dangers that lurk beneath – including unexpected currents and machinery. It doesn’t matter how strong a swimmer you are – swimming in our reservoirs can kill.”

The spokesman praised Gardaí for helping them reiterate the warning to youths who traditionally converge at the Ardnacrusha canal, despite the risks.

“There is a huge risk there because the suction created can easily draw someone, no matter how strong you happen to be, in towards the turbines.”

The turbine blades are protected by guards, but “you’d still be in deep trouble and the risk would be of drowning, you’d be essentially sucked in towards the guard”.

“The water would be coming at such a speed that you would really have very little chance of being able to swim out of something like that”.

Despite the warnings, young people continue to take risks every summer along the Ardnacrusha canal, particularly when temperatures soar.

“There might be an element of it being a bit of a tradition there, but it doesn’t make it safe obviously, and it doesn’t make it right, and we need to reinforce the message that it is a really really dangerous activity and that it’s not a normal waterway,” the spokesman said.

“Rivers have currents and are dangerous to swim in, but this is particularly hazardous because of the fact that there is those unexpected currents and the machinery that’s underneath.”

“ We were that concerned about the situation that we called the Gardaí.”

The spokesman warned parents to heed their advice, adding: “This is an absolutely lethal activity.”

Despite social distancing guidelines, young people have been observed converging at the Ardnacrusha canal in groups of more than four, and not adhering to the prescribed two-more distance.

“In these challenging times, ESB also reminds the public of the current Government requirement to stay at home,” the ESB spokesman stated.