Private Members' Business. - Waters Preservation Bill, 1972: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

In asking for a Second Reading for this Bill I am very glad to have the opportunity of pointing out to the Minister in particular and to the Government in general the need for action now in regard to pollution. I emphasise the word "now". The facts I hope to bring to the notice of the Minister and his Government during the course of this debate will, I think, show beyond yea or nay that the situation in regard to pollution is rapidly deteriorating. There is no shadow of doubt about that. Now, unless the Government take action immediately, the problem may become completely out of hand and the monetary resources available to us now may not be available at some period in the future to deal effectively with the problem if we permit it to get out of hand.

Pollution is not a problem to be dealt with today and forgotten about tomorrow. Pollution is something which affects the lives of all of us. It must, therefore, be regarded as a serious matter. But pollution is something more because it affects not only our own lives but it will seriously affect the lives of generations yet unborn. We owe it to future generations to ensure that they will have an opportunity of growing up in a healthy and happy environment. According to the Scriptures, faith without good works is death: the affluence people may acquire will be of no avail if their life span is endangered by the environment in which they live.

I regard pollution of our natural waterways as a form of violence against mankind. How would one react if a neighbour were to dump rubbish on one's property? How would one react if a neighbour poured poisons into one's drinking water? I am sure there are few of us here who can afford the luxury of a private swimming pool but, if we had a swimming pool and that swimming pool was contaminated by a neighbour, how would we react to that? Most of us would react very angrily and possibly aggressively in such circumstances. How then can we go on tolerating these self-same acts on a national level? How should we react to those acts? We should not, of course, tolerate them both in our own interests and in the interests of those who will come after us.

We are at the moment in a very favourable position to deal with pollution because 95 per cent of our waterways are under our own control. This is due to our island position. With goodwill and co-operation on the part of our citizens I believe we can become a very special place in which people can live and enjoy themselves in pleasant surroundings. The tourist industry has been in the news of late. Through circumstances beyond our control and matters entirely beyond the influence of the present Government the tourist industry is in a very, very serious position. I believe it is the intention to try to attract tourists to this country. Apart from that, every Member of the Oireachtas should spend his holidays at home this year. Every Member of the Oireachtas should also encourage and influence those he knows outside this country to come and spend their holidays here. Certain tourists who have come here in the past may be discouraged because of some belief on their part that this country is suffering the same violence as is being suffered unfortunately by those in the six north-eastern counties.

We should make every effort now to eradicate the pollution of our rivers, lakes and streams. If we do that we will be able to offer tourists the unique attraction of bathing, fishing and boating in waters free from pollution. I spoke about goodwill and co-operation. I believe pollution is a problem which every normal citizen wants to solve. I appeal to the Government and, in particular, to the Minister to allow the Second Reading of this Bill to go unchallenged or, at least, allow a free vote so that every Deputy can decide for himself, irrespective of party affiliation, whether he should vote for or against the Second Reading of this Bill. This is not a party political matter. Granted the names of those supporting the Bill belong to the one party; maybe it would be better if the names of members of the Government Party and the Labour Party had been included. However, I wish to point out that this Bill was first mooted by the National Waters Conservation Association of which I have the honour to be a member and of which other Deputies from the different parties are also members.

In the actual framing of the Bill I had to seek assistance from senior members of my own party and certain members have appended their names to this Bill as a sign of their goodwill and their wish that this Bill be implemented.

Most, if not all, Deputies are concerned to maintain high standards of public health and to preserve the amenities that nature has given into our care. High living standards cannot be divorced from environment. Can we regard it as progress if Mrs. X possesses a dishwasher which is using polluted water or if someone has a fibreglass boat to carry him through sewage on the coast? I do not think we can measure progress in terms of people's material possessions. Progress can better be measured according to the environment in which people live. In this connection I wish to quote from the Sunday Times of 7th September, 1969, in which a true phrase was coined:

One man's sewer is another man's water supply.

I wish also to quote from an article by Denis Coughlan in The Irish Times 6th January, 1970, which shows how true that phrase is:

Rivers provide most of the tap water in Ireland and in inland communities they take back most of the sewage which is, in the main, untreated.

We must ask ourselves if we can afford to allow such a situation to continue. Again, let me quote a statement by Harry Kramer, Director of the Taft Sanitary Engineering Centre in Cincinnati, in Our Polluted Planet which is published by the Ambassador College Research Department in England:

A few years ago the only waterborne virus diseases were hepatitis and polio-myelitis.

Today, according to him—and he is regarded as an authority—there are over 100 different diseases listed. The analysis of one American river, the Connecticut, reveals how foul fresh waters can become. One random sample of the Connecticut disclosed disease bacteria such as typhoid, paratyphoid, cholera, salmonella, tuberculosis, polio, anthrax, tetanus, plus countless other viruses. That is not all. Repulsive parasitic life forms such as tapeworm, roundworm, hookworm, pinworm and blood flukes were also present in abundance.

Similar conditions also exist on the other side of the globe. Disease organisms abound in that beautiful and natural harbour of Sidney in Australia. The Australian International News Review says: “Name your disease”, and with very little effort you can catch it merely by going swimming in the harbour or almost anywhere along the coast for 20 miles above and below the city. Reports of typhoid and paratyphoid organisms have made headlines in Sidney newspapers.

A form of pollution which is very prevalent in Ireland, and particularly in rural Ireland, is pollution from silage. It has become one of the most persistent forms of pollution and has proved very destructive to fish life in our rivers. It is contended by two Irish scientists, Mr. T.S. Spillane and Mr. J. O'Shea of the Agricultural Institute—and again I quote from an article entitled "Costing Clean Water" by Denis Coughlan in The Irish Times of 6th January, 1970—that simple equipment costing £4 and using water power, can be used effectively to deal with the menace locally. I do not think it would be imposing any hardship, and definitely no financial hardship, on farmers were they compelled to install this system in order to deal effectively with silage pollution.

There is another type of pollution which is common in rural Ireland, that is, from the disposal of animal manure. The same writer says that the oxidisation ditch may provide the answer to this. Therefore, compelling farmers to adopt methods to deal effectively with the pollution menace would not appear to impose any great financial strain on their resources.

Salmon and trout waters have always been a source of pride to us. They are a great source of income to the tourist trade as well as being a very valued amenity to the citizens of this country.

Industrial pollution has provided many instances in recent years of the destruction of fish life in our rivers. Industry suspected of guilt were quick enough to make amends and it would seem from this reaction that the possibility of heavy fines might go further to persuade such industries to research ways and means of avoiding a recurrence of this form of pollution.

Coarse fishing in recent years has been a further tourist attraction and it has created a very prosperous atmosphere in many inland towns. This thriving attraction has been threatened not alone by river pollution but by inland lake pollution. The principal cause of this is the seepage of fertilisers which promotes underwater plant growth. This underwater plant growth uses up the oxygen in the rivers. If you have a big increase in the growth of plant life naturally it will use up the oxygen and this renders it almost impossible for fish life to exist in those rivers and lakes.

I realise that the problem of pollution like every other problem cannot be fully controlled by legislation, but I think that it calls for the setting up of research teams to investigate remedies and to co-operate with the local angling associations and other interested parties in an effort to combat this menace. Special mention should be made of the local angling associations because they are primarily interested in the fish life and in seeing that normal health conditions of rivers are maintained to allow fish to live in them. Special regard should be had to their demands in this matter.

Pollution in rural Ireland is mainly from silage and artificial manures, but in the city areas most of the pollution problems are due to effluent from industries. To those who feel that industry would oppose any legislation being implemented in regard to the control of pollution, I wish to quote from the Newsletter of the Federation of Irish Industries of 13th January, 1970, which stated:

Then there is the story of the industrialist proposing to set up his slightly noisome process in a certain part of Ireland and his wish to satisfy Government's fear as to the BOD rating of effluent; the Government Department concerned analysed samples sent forward and found them grossly unsatisfactory, whereupon, they were amazed to learn that these were samples not of effluent but of intake. The story, even if apocryphal, well illustrates industry's double interest in the present concern about the general problem of pollution. The problem has assumed serious social and health as well as economic implications in some parts of the country already. Clean air and water and a generally more demanding attitude to the conservation of the physical environment are of importance to us all as persons, and, by the same token, although perhaps not to quite the same extent, as potential users of or polluters of the physical environment. A great deal of publicity has been given recently to the sad state of many Irish rivers—fish have died in some and others are said to be incapable of maintaining any form of life. Public opinion can very easily look for a scapegoat in industry and ignore the fact that family households by deed and local authorities by omission are more likely to be the culprits.

It is two years since we had what was called Conservation Year. Some people rather humourously referred to it as conservation year. At the beginning of Conservation Year there was a statement in The Irish Press of 28th February, 1970, headed “Authority for Conservation”“Flanagan's earnest hope” and it stated:

An authority is likely to be established by the end of the year to co-ordinate at national level all activity related to the preservation of the environment. In Dublin yesterday, Mr. Flanagan, Minister for Lands and Chairman of the National Committee for Conservation Year, said he was convinced that this country could no longer afford to have responsibility for environmental issues spread haphazardly over a whole range of Government Departments and other bodies with no one authority charged with general co-ordination to a definite national plan for management, maintenance and improvement of the natural environment. "It is my earnest hope that before 1970 is out, we will have found means of meeting this need" Mr. Flanagan told a meeting of TCD's Elizabethan Society.

This was early 1970 and the Minister for Lands hoped that an environmental ministry would be established in which one particular Department would be concerned with all aspects and not have it spread over seven or eight different Departments and a countless number of different State and semi-State bodies.

A British MP once proclaimed in the House of Commons that it was no longer possible to swim on the English beaches. He said that all that one could do was to go through the motion of swimming. The experience of bathers in Dublin Bay last year was on the same lines, in particular in the part of Dublin Bay which I have the honour to represent—Dollymount Strand, commonly known as the Bull Wall. Families who for generations enjoyed the swimming facilities there and whose families enjoyed happy days on this strand are no longer inclined to take their families to Dollymount. Many of them will not allow their children to bathe in this particular stretch of Dublin Bay because of its polluted state. I have spoken to people who have been in the habit of swimming at the other end of the bay, in Sandycove and such areas, and they have told me that they would now be very reluctant to swim there. Dublin Bay has reached a very polluted stage. I should like to refer to and praise the attempts of the Dublin Bay Preservation Association to bring this matter to the notice of the public in general and to try to have something done.

Dublin Bay is just one area which is polluted. There are others. Our famous River Liffey is heavily polluted. Somebody passing through Dublin remarked that he knew when he was crossing the Liffey with his eyes shut, that even if he could not see it he could smell it. The River Tolka in Dublin has also been badly polluted. I must say there has been a reasonable improvement in this river since Dublin Corporation installed a new pumping station in the Finglas area. This has helped to some extent to relieve the pollution on the Tolka. But it still remains a very serious matter and requires a lot of attention. Not all the effluent from various factories is directed away from the Tolka. In addition, certain residential areas, if they can be regarded as residential, in close proximity to the Tolka are unable, due to their low lying position, to connect with the main sewer; and it is a known fact that untreated domestic sewage in this year of 1972, goes into the Tolka, which flows through some of the most picturesque parts of Dublin.

It is the aim of this Bill to have one Department responsible for dealing with pollution and matters appertaining thereto. People are confused about who they should approach or who they should blame for the pollution of rivers or lakes. Four or five years ago I addressed a parliamentary question to the then Minister for Local Government and he told me that it was entirely outside his sphere and that if I wanted to inquire about this I should address my inquiries to the sanitary services section of Dublin Corporation. I took his advice and wrote to the sanitary services section about the River Tolka. They told me that they were not aware of any serious form of pollution or anything being really wrong with the River Tolka except that certain domestic articles such as prams, beds, bicycle frames and parts of cars had been dumped there. It happened to be a time when the level of the river was low and they felt that when there was rain and a rise in the level of the river everything would be lovely. I got in touch with the medical officer of health and he told me that he was aware of different types of effluent and raw sewage which were flowing into the river. He said he was fully aware and had been for years of the fact that where the Tolka flows through one of our main tourist attractions in Dublin, the Botanic Gardens, it is highly polluted and smells to high heaven, to use his words. Where there are several different bodies dealing with a problem you cannot pinpoint or blame any particular body for being responsible and if you want redress you cannot approach any particular body.

In Dublin, there is also the River Dodder which was heavily polluted but, to give credit where it is due, I am informed that it is now free of pollution. I understand that its pollution in the main was due to effluent from a particular factory——

Deputy Moore and Deputy FitzGerald cleaned it up also.

I was too modest to mention that.

I will give them credit in a minute but I understand that this factory, when it was brought to their notice—all credit to them and I hope it will be a headline to other factories—took very practical steps to have the situation remedied. As Deputy O'Donovan has reminded me, Deputy Moore, Deputy FitzGerald and I do not know if the Labour Party took part in it——

I am not aware that any Labour Deputy did manual labour in the River Dodder.

I attended myself to assist my colleague Deputy FitzGerald and I saw Deputy Moore assisting. Due to the efforts of everybody concerned I understand that the Dodder is now practically free if not entirely free of pollution.

We are cleaner on the south side.

Possibly. Whether we are cleaner on the north than the south or vice-versa, we are referring only to Dublin and although we regard Dublin as the capital of the country—in many ways we in Dublin regard ourselves as the most important people and it used to be said that Dublin Corporation were the premier local authority—Dublin is very small territorially. There are rivers all over the country and when I refer to them I hope it does not sound too much like a litany. I will refer to rivers, lakes and streams which in the last few years have been reported to be polluted heavily.

In Killarney, for instance, the famous lakes have been polluted by untreated sewage discharged at Rossbeigh. In Cork Harbour, both channels of the Lee are regarded as being in a stinking mess at low tide in front of and above Cork's renowned City Hall. In Dungarvan the entire harbour was almost silted from effluent from the town. The river Arra—this is worth noting—was badly polluted by effluent from the urban district council plant. In 1969, untreated sewage from Mallow and Fermoy and effluent from the beet factory seriously polluted the Blackwater.

In this connection, I am informed by the fishery association there that a fishing competition could not be held in Fermoy in 1970 because people felt it would be unjust and malicious on their part to invite anglers to fish in streams which were not capable of sustaining fish life. In 1969 also, the Barrow had shoals of dead fish between Carlow and Leighlinbridge. According to The Kerryman, the Feale in October, 1970, was heavily polluted due to dumping of refuse. The Martin river at Blarney Castle was so heavily polluted by effluent from piggeries that fish life was extinct.

In case any Deputy might think this was entirely peculiar to the south in County Monaghan Lough na Glack near Carrickmacross, according to The Sunday Press of 6th June last, was heavily polluted. We know that Lough Sheelin at the moment is very severely polluted. Some people say this is mainly due to piggeries. A heading in the Sunday Independent of 5th March last states “The pigs that may bring death to Lough Sheelin”. There was a photograph of a gentleman with a large fish and the caption read: “Pollution spells an end to fine fish like this Lough Sheelin brown trout, shown by Michael McCabe of the Sheelin Shamrock Hotel.”

Recently I was asked to go to Mullingar to a meeting summoned by an association very much concerned with the pollution of Lough Ennel. There were also certain technical people concerned. Lough Ennel is becoming polluted mainly because the Brosna River, which is very heavily polluted, flows into the lake. I understand that nobody at the meeting, with the exception of one gentleman, was willing to drink water from any part of Lough Ennel within a quarter of a mile of where the Brosna River enters it.

The Suir has been polluted heavily by the discharge into it of untreated sewage. An action was brought against the Clonmel Corporation, a local authority from whom one would expect better. They had attempted to discharge raw sewage into the Suir. I do not know what the outcome of the law case was. The Barrow and its tributaries particularly the Oweness are heavily polluted by discharge from abattoirs. We all know of the Clare River. This was polluted by discharge from a beet factory and fish life in it became particularly extinct.

As I have said, the purpose of the Bill is to get the Government to have some Department responsible for dealing with pollution and I must here refer to a statement made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries who said that the matter of pollution had been grossly exaggerated. I do not for a moment agree with him. He also said that applications for grants towards the building of new industries or the extension of existing ones were examined from the point of view of preventing pollution and of keeping it at a tolerable level. He said that officials of the Department and of the county committees of agriculture had been advising farmers on how to treat pollution. I agree it is a necessary qualification for people looking for grants from the Industrial Development Authority for the setting up of industries that they provide certain facilities for dealing with pollution. This, however, is in no way compulsory. The Parliamentary Secretary pointed this out as a proof that the Government were taking action. This has been the case and it is as a result of a condition laid down by the IDA over a number of years that this has been so. It is only to qualify for certain grants that they must do this. It is not said anywhere that they are prevented from setting up those industries if they do not provide facilities for dealing with pollution.

They must get planning permission from the local authority. One of the conditions is that pollution will not be caused.

It is one of the conditions for the obtaining of a grant?

No. Planning permission to erect a building must be obtained.

There is no legislation.

There is the 1963 Planning Act.

I must give people credit. For many years the standards here were those of the Royal Commission in Britain. The standards are now set by the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards. They have published a booklet. There are recommendations for the disposal of industrial effluent. These are no more and no less than recommendations. They are not compulsory. They are just recommendations which are made. A recommendation without the backing of law has no teeth and cannot compel people.

I must commend the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards on the very fine booklet which they have issued. Their recommendations are slightly higher than those of the Royal Commission in Britain. The provision of free and unpolluted water is a tremendous asset and encouragement to the tourists coming to this country. We need every incentive and attraction at the moment to encourage tourists to come here.

I have a list of the various Acts. Some people say there is no Act to prevent pollution: I say that there is no Act which covers the prevention of pollution. Those who disagree with me can say that there is a series of Acts. What power have they? There was the Rivers Pollution Protection Act, 1876. This Act makes it an offence for any person to put, cause to be put or to fall or knowingly permit to be put or to fall or to be carried into any stream the solid refuse of any factory or manufacturing process, any rubbish, cinders, other waste or any putrid solid matter so as either singly or in combination with other similar acts of the same or any other person to interfere with the flow of the stream or to pollute it's waters. In proving an offence under this section it may be shown that a number of repeated acts caused the interference or pollution even though each individual act would in itself not be sufficient to have done so.

Section 61 of the Waterworks Clauses Act, 1847 makes it an offence for a person to cause the water of any sink, sewer or drain, steam engine, boiler or other filthy water belonging to him or under his control to run into any stream, reservoir, or waterworks of the sanitary authority or to do any other act whereby the water of the sanitary authority shall be fouled. The penalty provided is very small—£5 and £1 for each day the offence is continued. I do not think this could be regarded in the present day as being a sufficient deterrent to people who might feel like committing such an offence.

Under the Water Supplies Act, 1942, the same powers of preventing pollution of our water source as reside in an owner of land contiguous to the source are conferred on sanitary authorities. The Fisheries (Consolidation) Act, 1959, contains two sections dealing with the question of water pollution. Here we have a modern statute but again we find that the wording used is not scientifically precise. It is hard to determine exactly when an offence might be committed. There are several other Acts. There is an amendment to the 1959 Act. Then there are the rights as between private owners. This is something which is very hard to prove. It can be very costly to try to secure a prosecution. It is no defence to such an action to show that other persons are also discharging pollution effluents into the river, nor is it a defence to plead that the neighbour stood idly by while the works causing the pollution were being constructed and took no steps to protect himself.

There is also the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963. There are many different sections of Acts to deal with those things but it is practically impossible to enforce those Acts and to deal with this crime of pollution. We would hope in this Bill to bring home to the Government and the Minister the necessity of co-ordinating all those within one particular Department. In regard to pollution we have to deal with the Department of Local Government and they cannot act entirely on their own. They must pay attention to the requirements and needs of the Department of Industry and Commerce. Pollution is the concern of the Department of Lands, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and of practically all Departments. This Bill only asks the Government to deal with the main causes of pollution. It is only when an appeal for good citizenship and good behaviour fails that fines should be imposed in order to ensure that people comply with the required conditions.

Pollution is defined as "any matter or substance which on its discharge into waters causes, or tends to cause, the same to become polluted". We know that the major sources of pollution are organic. Pollution is caused mainly by cyanides, by the metal treatment of industrial plants or pesticides. In this connection an example was the poisoning of the Rhine. Polution can be caused by untreated sewage and waste from industry. In this regard some of the main causes are waste matters from industries connected with meat or milk plants. The discharge of waste from paper mills causes a considerable amount of pollution.

With regard to the pollution of beaches, this is caused mainly by untreated sewage, by oil spillage, or by the dumping of dangerous substances. In this connection I would draw the attention of the Minister to a question I put down recently asking why this country has not signed the Oslo Agreement which deals with the dumping of dangerous substances. The Minister for Foreign Affairs informed me that this matter was under serious consideration by various Departments and that as yet a decision had not been made. This agreement was submitted to approximately 15 countries and 12 of them have signed it. The only countries who have not signed are the Soviet Union, Finland and Ireland. I understand the Government have six months in which to decide whether they will sign the agreement and I am sure that they will arrive at a mature and considered decision.

The dumping of bilge from ships causes a considerable amount of pollution and I would ask the Minister to refer to this matter in his reply. I have been told on reliable authority that this is done quite regularly but I cannot vouch completely for this information. I understand that in America and England heavy fines are imposed on ships which dump bilge or "blow their tubes" as it is known. I do not know if our law provides for heavy penalties in this regard. If there are regulations prohibiting the dumping of bilge I have been told on fairly reliable authority that there is wholesale violation in this regard. Immediately ships leave Dublin port frequently they dump bilge and no action has been taken on this matter.

The dumping of untreated sewage into rivers constitutes a health hazard and can be the cause of some diseases, including typhoid and hepatitis and we are concerned that this practice is continuing. Although we wish industries to thrive here we should not, as I understand happens in some American cities, allow industries to be established regardless of the way they dispose of effluent. Requirements in this regard should not be merely recommendations; they should have full legal backing——

They have full legal backing in that grants will not be paid unless new industries comply with those recommendations.

If it costs £50,000 or £60,000 to install the necessary equipment, is there any compulsion on the owners of factories to provide the personnel to operate the equipment and are steps taken to see that it is operated effectively? Is it just necessary to say, "There is the plant", and, whether it is put into operation or not—has that any bearing on it?

Yes. They must comply with the conditions which attached to the permission they obtained for the industry and they must continue to comply with those conditions as long as they are in existence and in production and it is up to the local authority to ensure that the conditions are complied with.

But are those conditions no more and no less than that they install the equipment?

No, that they maintain forever after the standards obtaining at the time the industry was being established.

And they must have qualified personnel to operate such plant?

This is definite? I am glad to have that assurance.

Yes, the effluent discharged from the factory must continue to comply with the conditions on which they were given a grant to establish the factory. The obligation rests on the company to maintain that standard. If that necessitates the employment of special personnel, then the obligation rests on the company. The company must take whatever steps are necessary and, if it means employing people, they must employ them.

The conditions just laid down that they must install the equipment. They get the grant once they comply with the conditions set out that they must have the necessary system for disposal of effluent, and so on.

The question of whether they put this method of disposing of effluent into practice or not is not a condition of their getting the grant?

Yes it is, because the local authority will include this as a condition which will govern the treatment of effluent discharging from that factory and the treatment works must be maintained in such a condition as to ensure that the effluent is properly treated and discharges into any receivable area at an acceptable standard and is maintained at that standard and, if that is not the case, there can be a prosecution.

The plant must be capable of doing this.

Yes. There is no difficulty here.

Is it compulsory to ensure that this actually operates?

Yes, they must maintain the treatment works.

An inspector goes out and sees that the equipment is sufficient, whether it operates or does not. If it is going to cost the factory more to operate the equipment, is it sufficient merely to have the plant and be able to show it at any particular time?

Not at all. They must comply with the conditions.

I shall not go into any more detail. I am not an expert.

If the promoters find that it is not economic to comply with the conditions, that the treatment is so costly as to render the project uneconomic, they may not proceed, as was the case in a certain project in my own town some years ago.

When they have already got the grant?

No. They do not get the grant without complying with the conditions set down by the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards for obtaining planning permission.

What happens once they get the grant, if they do not continue to comply with the conditions?

The grant has got nothing to do with it. You must get planning permission and you must comply with the conditions even if there is no grant.

The local authority will insist on conditions in giving planning permission and these conditions must be maintained throughout the period of operation of the plant.

(Cavan): This seems to be a two-to-one contest.

The Deputy is asking the question.

And there are no winners.

It is very interesting. Untreated sewage flowing into the sea can be a health hazard and a complete deterrent to bathers and those anxious to enjoy the amenities of beaches and bathing places. The Government should take all possible steps to ensure that our beaches are not fouled by raw sewage being allowed to flow into seaside resorts.

The Deputy should quote someone in order to substantiate the statement that sewage discharging into the sea is injurious to health.

(Cavan): It is flowing into rivers all over the country.

Did the Deputy say that sewage discharging into the sea was injurious to health of persons bathing in it? I should like him to substantiate that statement. It is a very serious statement to make, that it is injurious to health.

Take Dublin Bay. I cannot give the exact quotation. On a motion moved by Deputy Dr. O'Connell——

A better authority than that.

——I think he mentioned that 12 members of the medical profession had stated that it was injurious to health.

Quote the scientific proof of that statement.

I have not any specific quotation for it.

(Cavan): Does the Minister suggest that it is conducive to enjoyable swimming?

We are discussing whether it is injurious to health or not, which is a very serious matter. Deputy Fitzpatrick wants to be frivolous.

According to Deputy Dr. O'Connell, whom I would regard as more of an authority than I or possibly the Minister would be, 12 medical men stated that there was a health hazard in swimming in the sea——

Dúirt bean liom gur dhúirt bean lei. It is very poor substantiation of the statement the Deputy has made that somebody said that somebody said.

Perhaps we will get the quotation for the Minister before the debate concludes. At least, it is a deterrent and it is not something which even the Minister would advocate and it is certainly not conducive to enjoyment.

Everybody will agree with that. There is a very serious difference.

That is all right, as long as we agree on that. I do not think there is an insurmountable problem in this country in dealing with pollution inasmuch as practically all our waterways, possibly 99 per cent, are within our own control and we are not dependent on other countries. European countries are confronted with an entirely different problem because most of the rivers in Europe flow through more than one country and a country has to depend on the goodwill of other countries in respect of this matter of pollution. It is not much use for one country to ensure that its stretch of a river is unpolluted if the country which is responsible for the stretch above it allows the river to become polluted.

In this regard I would not envisage that we should compel industry, new or old, or for that matter, farmers who would be responsible for pollution in rural Ireland to wave a magic wand and dispel all forms of pollution. I would envisage a period of at least 12 months in which to conform to these regulations and, as the Minister seems satisfied that new industries are amply covered by present legislation, new industries would not come within the sphere of this proposal. It would apply to existing industries which at the time of their establishment did not take effective steps in the matter, for one reason or another, either because it was too expensive or they were not compelled to do so. I do not for a moment believe that anybody would expect that all our rivers, lakes and seaside areas should be free of pollution immediately.

In the first place they are not all polluted.

Most of them are.

I have here a list of rivers which I read out—I do not know whether Deputy Cunningham was here or not——

Yes, I was.

This embraces a fair enough section——

There were no more than 20 in the list.

They take in practically all parts of the country and there are still a lot more. Does the Parliamentary Secretary wish me to get them all?

Some of them are only isolated incidents, such as the Clare river which was polluted for only a week or a fortnight.

What about the Liffey? It is also a long-time matter and the Minister did nothing about it. It is a disgrace.

The Deputy would be contributing more to that than I.

No, the Minister and Fianna Fáil are contributing to the pollution of the country in a big way. Pollution is in the atmosphere, unfortunately.

I had hoped to keep this debate at a higher level than that.

Let us have a standard of purity.

In fairness to Deputy Cunningham, I do not think I mentioned a Donegal river. Possibly they are all unpolluted up there.

The point I am making is that the Deputy mentioned less than 20 and even though 20 are polluted, they are still only a very small percentage of all our lakes and rivers.

I mentioned a few rivers in the north and some in the south and west. I gave some from Dublin and I thought this was a fair example. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will forgive me if I omitted to mention the fact that some of the rivers in Donegal are polluted but certainly the atmosphere seems to be slightly polluted up there anyway, whether the rivers or not are.

There is a very fresh breeze blowing.

(Cavan): Deputy Belton will have to do as the former Minister, Mr. Boland, had to do when he spent hours reading a list of sewerage works which he had sanctioned all over the country.

It shows the progress we have made.

I mentioned less than 20 rivers—the Parliamentary Secretary is quite right. Those were taken at random, and if the Parliamentary Secretary wishes me to do so, I can mention 20 more at a later stage or I can show him cuttings and reports from papers, if he disbelieves me. My purpose in doing this was merely to illustrate, to make the Minister and the Government fully aware of this problem of pollution. If I were to list every river, every lake, every stream and every seaside area in Dublin, Deputy Cunningham could possibly say to me that it was confined to Dublin, that it was not widespread and not national. This would be a perfect answer.

I want to ensure that I am not to understand the Deputy as saying that every lake and every river in the country is polluted.

I did not say that. What I was trying to convey to Deputy Cunningham was that this problem of pollution, two, three or more years ago, was confined to certain areas or districts. I remember when we started the National Water Conservation Association and tried to get certain Deputies interested, we found that they had not known or heard of pollution outside Dublin. It was easy in Dublin because there were the Tolka, the Dodder, Dublin Bay and the Liffey—everything going for you in Dublin. It was very easy to make people fully aware that pollution existed in Dublin but in rural Ireland, after we started it was very difficult to find people who would be interested because they said that they had never heard of pollution, but since then we have heard of it happening on a tributary of the Corrib and we know that it happened on the Blackwater, the Suir and the Nore. These are the principal rivers. We know that it happened in Lake Garadice and Lough Sheelin, and less than a month ago I was asked to go to Mullingar where the people were very seriously concerned with the amount of pollution in Lough Ennel, an inland lake which two or three years ago did not know of the horrors of pollution.

It is 4,000 years old.

I agree, but it was not polluted.

They did not know of it.

Would the Deputy give me a minute to correct something he said with regard to the dangers of swimming in sewage-contaminated sea water? I want to get this on the record as I may not intervene in this debate for some time. The medical correspondent of The Irish Times, Dr. David Nowlan, on 7th August, 1971, said that no epidemics or major outbreaks of serious disease have ever, to the best of his knowledge, been traced back to sea-bathing even in the most heavily sewage-contaminated sea waters.

There is also a contra medical view to that.

(Cavan:) Surely the Minister agrees that it will destroy our beaches for swimming?

It is very serious to imply that there is a danger to health in this. I want to quote also Dr. B. Moore, a world-renowned expert on water pollution control, in a paper he read in May, 1970, under the auspices of the Institution of Water Pollution Control.

There are two medical views about this.

He says that no relationship can be established between the existence of communicable disease and bathing in sewage-contaminated sea water. Mr. Moore is a figure of world standing and many of his papers have been accepted as standards for application throughout the world. There are many forms of pollution, but let us not create a scare.

I am not trying to do so. The Minister has quoted two medical men who cannot agree——

These two people agree.

Debate adjourned.