Meeting to be held between Uisce Éireann, HSE, and Limerick council over toxic chemicals in drinking water

Social Democrats councillor Elisa O'Donovan.

SOCIAL Democrats councillor Elisa O’Donovan has raised concerns around reports of a potentially toxic chemical in the water supply for over 100,000 people in the Limerick City area.

The latest data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that 114,764 in Limerick City have been exposed to trihalomethanes (THMs) in the drinking water supply in levels above that currently permitted by European Union limits.

Speaking at this month’s Metropolitan District meeting, Cllr O’Donovan requested that Uisce Éireann and the HSE meet with Limerick’s local authority to report on the safety of drinking water.

Following her request, Uisce Éireann emailed the local authority to say that “they are progressing with upgrades at Clareville Water Treatment Plant, which supplies customers in counties Limerick and Clare”.

“Uisce Éireann is currently undertaking extensive trials at the plant as we work to eliminate THM exceedances in the supply and we continue to update the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on our progress in this regard.”

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According to health advice, THMs can be tackled relatively easily by installing a charcoal filter on the water supply in the home at a cost of around €70, but for that to happen, households, and businesses need to be alerted if they are affected, environmental campaigners say.

According to HSE advice, “short-term health effects of THMs in drinking water are rare. Therefore temporary raised levels of THMs in drinking water are unlikely to result in any risk to health”.

However, the health body continued, “some studies suggest a link between long term exposure to THMs (i.e. many years) and cancer and reproductive effects but the evidence is not conclusive”.

Cllr O’Donovan welcomed the communication from Uisce Éireann, however, she says “we still need a meeting with Irish Water and the HSE to alleviate any concerns in relation to this”.

“People are understandably very worried and very upset about this. This is about our health and nothing is more important than that, so we are in the process of organising that meeting.”

The City West representative went on to say that she considers it important that people trust in public services, adding that “it is our job to regain that trust by understanding what happened and making sure that it won’t happen again.”

A meeting between Uisce Éireann, the HSE, and the council will be held over the coming weeks.