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

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

While speaking on this Bill yesterday evening the Minister asked me if I had any proof of pollution being caused by the discharge of sewage into the sea. He quoted two or three eminent people who were qualified to give an opinion as to the possibility of disease being caused by untreated sewage entering the sea. I must confess that there is no definite proof of this but, on the other hand, neither is there any definite proof that untreated sewage flowing into the sea does not cause any disease. Different people at different times have claimed that they got a rash or suffered some other inconvenience from swimming in waters that were polluted.

On the 10th June, 1970, I asked the Minister for Health if he had any evidence to indicate that infectious hepatitis was more prevalent in areas adjacent to rivers and waters that were polluted. In his reply the Minister told me that it was generally agreed that occasional outbreaks of hepatitis might be caused by food or water. Apparently the Minister for Health had no doubt as to it being agreed generally that this disease could be contracted from water. People who dive into the sea at, say, the Forty Foot, sometimes, come up to find themselves covered in human excreta. Can anyone blame these people if they regard themselves as being subject to a health hazard in such waters?

I have no wish to create any unnecessary scare in this matter but can the waters in this part of the world be regarded as being any different in this respect from those elsewhere? In this connection I might refer to an item that appeared in the Australian International News Review in which there appeared these words: “Name your disease and with very little effort you can catch it merely from going swimming anywhere inside the harbour itself or almost anywhere along the coast for 20 miles above and below the city.” If it is possible to contract any disease in that part of the world, surely it is logical to assume that it could be contracted in any other part of the world. I am not for one moment endeavouring to cross swords with the eminent people to whom the Minister referred, but I merely make this point.

I shall not delay the House unduly this evening, but I would refer the Minister to the health hazards that exist in so far as polluted waters are concerned. I would remind him of an article that appeared in the Evening Herald of the 6th November last. This article. Which was headed “Paddling Pool is Health Danger”, said that parents of hundreds of children who use a paddling pool at Drumcondra are warning their children to stay clear of the pool because they fear it is a health hazard. The report said that, according to a report of the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards, the pool at Griffith Park on the Tolka River is acting as a settling tank for sludge making conditions, that it was suspect and indicative of sewage contamination. These warnings should be heeded and should be the means of alerting the Minister to the dangers of children exposing themselves to paddling or swimming in an area which can be regarded as being almost in the centre of the city.

Innumerable children have free access to this park and the Minister should take immediate action because of the danger lurking there. In the Evening Herald of 5th November there is a report to the effect that this popular paddling pool in Griffith Park is a mass of sludge and possibly sewerage. The Evening Herald of 16th November says no comfort can be drawn from the views expressed on behalf of the Government in the course of the Dáil Debate on the Fine Gael Private Notice Motion calling for legislation to deal with air and water pollution; the report also says that the views expressed by Deputy Cunningham, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government, confirms the view that the present Government will not approach the question of pollution with any realism. It is also stated that we are so far behind in this matter that nothing short of a full-time ministry to deal with the whole question of environment is urgently required.

While there may not be any positive evidence to show that disease has resulted from swimming in either the sea or the rivers which are polluted, the Minister must agree that there is no evidence to disprove the case. The Minister for Health in June, 1970 said it is generally agreed that outbreaks of infective hepatitis might be either food or water borne. Mark you, generally agreed! This is an admission that disease can be caused by water pollution.

The question of our entry into the EEC looms large at the moment. We are anxious to have foreign industrialists coming in here to set up industries. We will have to ensure that these industries enjoy every amenity possible and one of the amenities must be a satisfactory method of dealing with effluents from factories. We must ensure that we are not lacking in all the facilities required for the establishment of successful industries. Would it not be calamitous if, having encouraged foreign industrialists to come in here, we then failed to measure up because of non-conformance with regulations governing environment.

There are no regulations worth talking about at the moment. Most of our factories are, of course, sited along the coast. It is our hope that more factories will be established in rural Ireland, in the west and in the midlands, and we should not hesitate for one moment now in establishing perfect conditions in these areas so that industrialists will be assured that we conform to all the rules and regulations governing the discharge of effluents from factories.

The Government have in the past held out hope that they would deal with pollution. In the Irish Independent in November, 1969, there is a heading: “The Government to attack Pollution.” Dealing with pollution and its cause, the article says that there is an indication that the Government have acknowledged this calamity and this outrage and were taking effective steps to deal with it. In December, 1965, in the Irish Press, there was a heading: “A welcome step against water pollution” and the article went on to state that anglers in general would welcome the Government's decision to establish a commission to carry out research into the pollution of lakes and rivers. This was to be headed by a former chief inspector of the British Fishery Association. What happened? The intentions never reached fulfilment.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister said I mentioned only 20 rivers, or fewer; I thought that by mentioning 20 rivers I was giving a good indication of how widespread this problem is and showing that it was not confined to any particular area. The Parliamentary Secretary seems to think I did not mention enough rivers. I will now mention the Camac in Dublin which everybody knows is very heavily polluted. I also omitted the River Swan in Dublin which is polluted. I did not mention the Oranmore in Sligo which is very slightly polluted and the Garravogue which is polluted to a somewhat greater extent. I understand Lough Gill in Sligo has been subject to pollution. The River Inny, which is a tributary of the Shannon, has been slightly polluted and so has the River Brosna. There are countless smaller rivers which I did not mention. I thought it was sufficient to mention the larger rivers and thus give an indication of the areas in which pollution exists.

For Deputy Cunningham's information, I cannot mention any Donegal river which is polluted but if they lack pollution in rivers they have an abundance of political pollution in his constituency.

Surely that does not arise?

It does not and you are the only Member of Dáil Éireann, a Cheann Comhairle, who has not been mentioned in that regard. I would ask the Minister to accept this bill as a serious effort to deal with pollution. In recent years this problem has spread right over the country. I would ask him to bear in mind the representations of the different people concerned who are genuinely interested. I would ask him to pay special attention to any representations he may receive from the salmon anglers, the trout anglers or anybody connected with the fishing industry because any river which is not capable of producing normal, healthy fish life cannot be regarded as a healthy river. I would ask the Minister to bear in mind the points I have put to him and not to regard this as a political motion but as a motion which has due regard to a menace within our society which is spreading rapidly. If we do not take action now in a year or less it may be too late and we may not have the resources to deal effectively with this calamity which is thrust upon us.

I should like to congratulate Deputy Belton on his publicspiritedness and the amount of hard work he has put into the preparation of this Bill. It deals with a very serious problem. I do not believe that more legislation is necessary but that does not take away from the intentions and the ideals of Deputy Belton. Like myself he is a city Deputy and he knows the amount of pollution there is in any urban society. The only thing on which we differ is how to tackle this problem and though I may differ with him I want my admiration of the man for his efforts in a good cause to be recorded.

Pollution must be dealt with in the most serious way possible. I do not mean by new laws or bye-laws but by our whole attitude to this matter. To exaggerate the problem is as bad, if not worse, than to underrate it. In the last ten years or so there has been a tendency to exaggerate it. It has been suggested that this is a new problem. There is nothing new about it. It is at least five thousand years old. Since man started to upset the balance of nature he has created a pollution problem. The only difference is that in earlier times the only kind of pollution was organic pollution. Since the industrial revolution we have had an inorganic pollution which is much more deadly than pollution by decaying flesh, decaying foliage, trees or anything else.

We must also remember that pollution is a rich man's problem. That is how the native of an underdeveloped country in Africa would look at it. He knows nothing about it. His problem is starvation maybe. In the continent of Europe and in the United States we have the affluent society and there is this frightful pollution problem. Thor Heyerdahl who went across the ocean on the Kon Tiki reported that practically all oceans were dying. It might sound like heresy for me to disagree with him with his vast experience. He asked: “Do you want a metropolis or an necropolis?” I think there is a touch of exaggeration in that because for at least two centuries man has lived in this industrialised atmosphere and has survived. No doubt the human race will survive for at least some time and if it does fall eventually it probably will not be because of pollution.

We are inclined to think that nothing has been done about it. If I speak of Dublin more than elsewhere it is because I represent a part of Dublin. The Minister for Local Government is a swimmer and an outdoor man. He is as interested in this as we are and he has taken steps whenever a Member of this House has gone to him or when a local authority has pressed him to do something. Deputy Belton mentioned the Tolka River. A new pumphouse has been installed there at a cost of £22,000 which will ensure that the pollution problem in that river will be substantially remedied.

The River Dodder, which flows through part of my constituency, was frightfully polluted but at a cost of over £1 million the Dodder Valley drainage scheme is being implemented. Already part of that river, which is a very beautiful little river, has been cleared of pollution and I hope that when the scheme is finished within the next two years the Dodder will be a clean river. There will not be any untreated sewage going into the river and the fish life is already showing evidence of returning.

This is due to the fact that a certain industry in that area acknowledged their responsibility and took steps to remedy the position.

I know the firm referred to. On two occasions they cleaned up the river.

They took steps to deal with the problem. Deputy FitzGerald assisted them in cleaning up.

I thought they were cleaning the canal.

I saw Deputy Moore engaged in trying to remove some of the pollution.

He has done good work and made a valuable contribution.

I also commend Deputy FitzGerald.

The Minister will not agree with that.

I saw Deputy Moore and Deputy FitzGerald doing this work.

Deputy FitzGerald was the second most active Deputy on the job.

I would put Deputy FitzGerald first.

The greatest credit goes to the people of the Dodder Valley Association who organised the clean-up last year and who will do the same this year. The work they did focused attention on the violation of this river by pollution by careless citizens. We have mentioned the Dodder Valley Association. I should also mention the Tennessee Valley Association. In that valley man destroyed the trees. They made a dustbowl of the valley. Farmers had no arable land there. Men came along and replanted trees and ploughed in concentric circles and restored the land so that it produced food again. If we learn from the mistakes of the Americans we can save ourselves money and heartbreak. We must watch developments in other countries to ensure that we do not make similar mistakes. We must benefit from the anti-pollution measures taken abroad.

It is interesting to note that an American firm, prosecuted some years ago for causing pollution, have decided to make their own anti-pollution equipment.

With regard to the Dodder, will Deputy Moore not give credit to the Dodder Trout Anglers' Association?

They are all represented.

The anglers were very active.

They did a lot of good work. The American firm manufactured their own apparatus. They were so successful that they started making anti-pollution devices and are supplying them to industry. Industrialists should follow their example. Deputy L. Belton has spoken of Dublin Bay and the rivers around Dublin. In Dublin there are 28 rivers and streams. Some of them run underground. One can still swim in some of these rivers and walk in the streams. That gives an idea of the lack of pollution here.

Is Deputy Moore telling us that it is safe to swim in Dublin?

I learned to swim in the Liffey many years ago.

One would need a gas mask when swimming in the Liffey now.

The Liffey is a long river.

One can swim at Islandbridge but not where the Camac flows into the Liffey.

One could swim in the Camac on former occasions.

The Liffey swim goes through it.

They go through it on a flowing tide. Chairman Mao swam nine miles of the Yangtse river.

I hope Deputy Moore would not swim down that river.

The Yangtse may be as dirty as the Liffey.

The doctors have told us that these rivers with untreated sewage are not a hazard to health.

Which river is the Deputy speaking about?

Those in the environs of Dublin generally.

What about the Camac?

It is a sewer.

What about the Tolka?

These rivers are polluted not only by raw sewage but also by chemicals. On one occasion cyanide was discharged into a river. It killed all the fish for miles around. The factory concerned admitted their mistake. It was impossible to prove that the fish actually died from the poison released from that particular factory. One could not swim in a river into which such a poison was released. If a river or bay is polluted by sewage it is uninviting but still not a health hazard.

Does the Deputy condone that?

I am facing facts. Is the Deputy prepared to do away with the internal combustion engine and to close every factory in Dublin?

We want conditions imposed in regard to factories and the control of effluents from them.

We must get down to the cause of pollution and deal with it in an unemotional way. We must find the cause of the pollution and tackle the problem. We must ask people whether they still want the comforts of society, one of which is the internal combustion engine. Nobody would ask us to scrap that. We will not do away with the things which give us a nice soft living. Even in the Antarctic penguins and other birds and animals are affected by pesticides from northern Europe. Ecologists assure us that this is true and they also assure us that the oceans will die unless we do something about them.

The disposal of sewage is a very important matter. The real problem is that our rivers are becoming full of oil and cyanide. We are lucky in this country that we are not as industrialised as Great Britain or Germany. Any Member of the House who has been to the Council of Europe will know the River Rhine well. It is now referred to as the sewer of Europe. Deputy Belton mentioned that some Deputies cleaned the Dodder. I remember some months ago when I was in Strasbourg the people were cleaning the River Rhine. They were taking all types of old rubbish, motor cars and bicycles out of it.

Does the Deputy think we should enter into competition with the River Rhine as the most polluted river in Europe?

I will leave the Rhine to the Germans and to the people of the other countries through which it flows. We have got to tackle this problem in a very realistic way. The steps which are being taken in the city, while they will not clear the air completely, will go a long way to improve the problem. If we allow this situation to develop we will face what many European countries are now facing. We may think pollution in the Liffey is bad but we find that a great amount of sewage of all types has poured into the Seine and the Rhine. The volume of liquid waste in the Federal Republic of Germany is estimated at over 9,000 million cubic metres per day. Into the Rhine alone, 50,000 tons of waste are discharged daily and this includes 30,000 of sodium chloride from industrial plants.

Are we to congratulate ourselves because rivers in other countries are worse than ours?

We have a problem but it is not insurmountable. We can overcome it.

It could be insurmountable if we delay too long.

We can save ourselves from making the mistakes European countries have made. A sludge disposal ship leaves the Pigeon House a couple of times each week and empties its tanks into the Irish Sea.

At what stage does this happen?

On an ebb tide. The ebb tide may take it to Liverpool or Preston. It is not cricket to take our sludge and put it into the Ribble or the Mersey. The ocean is not endless and the less of this sort of action by all countries the better. I think it was an Englishman, John Donne, who said 300 years ago that no man is an island. No country is an island today as regards pollution because even the trade winds blow from west to east and take most of our smoke and smog towards Liverpool. The wind can change occasionally and we can very often get back the smoke from Liverpool, Lancashire or Cheshire.

Have we any rules or regulations to cover this? At what point does the ship discharge this into the Irish Sea? Most countries have rules and regulations and impose very heavy fines for violations of them.

Deputy Moore should be allowed to speak.

I feel Deputy Moore should be allowed to make his own contribution.

We have regulations. No ship in port is permitted to open its furnace and allow too much smoke and fumes to escape. There was a foreign ship which used to do that and action was taken against it. Black smoke used to pour over the city. You must remember that nobody has yet built a chimney high enough to pierce the whole atmosphere. We have got to try to stop smoke being created rather than dispose of it. Nobody has yet built a sewerage pipe long enough to go over the side of the world. We cannot get rid of things that way.

There is really only one type of pollution, that is pollution of the sea, because all pollution ends up there. If an oil tanker turned over in Ballyfermot the oil or petrol from it would flow through the sewers and be down in Ringsend within an hour and into the sea. No matter what any citizen or any country does it will affect other people. Some time ago the Minister requested An Foras Forbartha to set up a water resources division to examine all aspects of the water resources of the State, including water pollution. An Foras Forbartha have the trained personnel and the expertise to go into these matters. It will not be left to amateurs like Deputy Belton and myself and other Deputies who are conscious of this great problem but who are not trained to deal with it.

We can influence the public by good example. We should exhort the public not to litter the streets, not emit injurious smoke from their houses but to act as good citizens and not spoil our rivers. I would ask the Minister to initiate classes to educate all our citizens in regard to pollution. This should naturally start in the home and in the school but classes are also required to educate the adults. Any law passed in this House is only effective if it has the consent of the people it will affect. We have seen too many laws, bye-laws and regulations being made which did not achieve the results we hoped for. The streets in this city are getting dirtier instead of cleaner. I know the population has grown in recent years and perhaps the amount of litter is less than it was some years ago but at the same time we find utter carelessness all over the place by people who litter our streets and rivers. Anybody who lives on either side of Dublin Bay will see that even though Dublin Corporation have provided dumps for rubbish people do not avail of them. Instead they dump their rubbish any place, even over their neighbour's back gate. This is because we have not educated ourselves into being good citizens. If we spend millions on the Dodder and the Tolka it will all be in vain unless the people show a determination to create an atmosphere in which citizens will not litter the streets or pollute the rivers—ensure that the physical atmosphere will not be impaired by their careless actions.

It is a comfort at times to think of other countries and say: "Look how bad they are", but that is no excuse for us. Any country today which could offer unpolluted beaches and rivers and an unpolluted atmosphere would have the greatest tourist attraction ever, and despite the bad picture which has been painted of us this year as regards tourism, I feel that people would still come here if they knew of the standard of cleanliness of our rivers and of the air. If you go through Lancashire where the canals are heavily polluted, you will see hundreds of anglers standing there almost shoulder to shoulder trying to catch fish which are not there or very few of which are there. Now these men would enjoy fishing in a river in Donegal, Galway or in the south. Britain is so heavily industrialised that I do not think you would find one river which is not heavily polluted.

We must pay tribute to the Port of London Authority and to the Greater London Council for the treatment of the River Thames. Here was a river which suffered the worst of the Industrial Revolution. Industries were built along its banks and it was polluted unmercifully until at one time for a human being to fall into some stretch of it meant instant death if he swallowed the water, it was so poisonous. The Port of London Authority and the Greater London Council spent millions of pounds in cleaning that river, and fish life is again appearing in many parts of it. If the London County Council and the Port of London Authority could do it—I know at enormous cost—we certainly could do it, because the cost would only be a fraction of what Britain would have to spend. What they have shown is that a river can be saved from pollution. There is the same situation here, on a much smaller scale, in regard to the River Dodder, and it would not take all that much to clean the Liffey. Dublin is unique in being the only capital city in Europe with a salmon-bearing river going through its centre.

What part of the Liffey is salmon-bearing?

They must go up the river to breed. They go the whole length of the bay right up to Kildare to the breeding ground. Do not forget they must pass through at least one hydro station on the way up.

They probably wear gas masks.

No. They do not have to. The Liffey may suffer from halitosis——

That is bad breath.

It is indeed.

Has the Deputy any idea what number of salmon were caught at Kingsbridge this year compared with four or five years ago?

I have not got the figures, but the Deputy can get them from the fishery conservators very easily. It was James Joyce who referred to "Anna Livia Plurabelle". She may not be so "plurabelle" now, but she is far from being a really polluted river. There is a degree of pollution certainly, but if salmon are still swimming through it the pollution cannot be all that bad.

They are very brave salmon.

The salmon swim from the sea up the Liffey from January to August. They are able to brave the anglers, the net men and the pollutants, and they get there. I agree with Deputy Belton that we have a pollution problem, but we must keep a sense of proportion when dealing with it. We should not make statements which will alarm people. You hear people asking if children should bathe in the bay. One of the most tragic things I heard was from an English child who was over here: before she went into the water she asked: "Is this water polluted?" When we were youngsters we had our own bogeymen with which people used to frighten us. Today the bogeymen is pollution. It is bad for children that they should have this horrible fear. They should be taught a sense of care but not of fear, because fear will not overcome anything. Tremendous advances have been made by scientists and surely man, who can destroy a city in a few minutes, can also use his genius to prevent a city being destroyed over a number of years.

I want to refer to a point made by Thor Heyerdahl, who spoke at the Council of Europe. I might remind Deputy Belton that Deputy Ryan read an excellent paper on this subject at the Council of Europe which was well worth reading. There is no doubt that we are very much aware of the problem. The Minister, as well as his predecessors, have taken action in regard to it. Deputy Belton will also remember—he was a member of the corporation with me at the time—the North Dublin Drainage Scheme. We are not a rich city but we spent about £3 million on that scheme. The Dodder Scheme and various other schemes for the city have cost a tremendous amount of money. At the moment the corporation are at the planning stage of a new sewage disposal works at the Pigeon House which will cost £3 million or £4 million and which will treat the sewage before it enters the water.

It must be remembered that you can treat pollution but to dispose of it is a different thing. We just cannot go on putting everything into the sea. When Christopher Columbus discovered America he also discovered that the oceans were not endless, as many people had thought at that time they were. Were it not for action such as has been taken in the last two years we would kill the rivers, first of all, and then the seas. Man is the most resilient being and can overcome many persecutions, whether inflicted by human beings or by nature. Nature will, of course, go on doing its part in the fight against pollution because it will always hold its own balance. It is only when man interferes with this balance that things get out of hand. In some countries they have got out of hand. Lake Erie in America has been killed by pollution. Some of the lakes in Switzerland have also been killed by pollution. However, these countries are very highly industrialised. While we will become more industrialised, the ball is at our feet now to ensure that any factory commencing here will not be given planning permission unless it conforms with the bye-laws and the laws against pollution. The Minister said here last night that at the moment planning permission would not be given unless the plans contain provision in regard to pollution.

There are no laws, only recommendations.

They are not laws. They are recommendations and no more.

They must show how to dispose of effluent. There are bye-laws which can be enforced and, therefore, we do not need more legislation. All that is needed is enforcement of present legislation. It is seldom enforced, not because of any lack on the part of the local authorities or the boards of fishery conservators, but because it is not always easy to prove a case in court——

That is one of the main purposes of the Bill.

It is all an attitude of mind. We have a certain attitude in regard to the throwing of papers in streets and this can be extended to polluting rivers. It is not so much compulsion that is required as education and exhortation. We should be able to get the factory worker, the housewife——

Down to the school-children

The start must be made in the home and in the school. Then we can go on to the adults. In Europe they have sufficient laws but look where they wound up in regard to the Rhine and the Seine. We had all the lyrics about the Seine, all the lyricism about the bridges of Paris, but you would want to be a brave man to go under some of them. Of course, the French with their genius for revival will not let this drift on. They discharge 18,000 million cubic metres of effluent into the sea. We are bound to get some of that from the west coast of France. We cannot pass laws to stop the tides coming across from France but we can join in a combined effort to ensure that we do not commit national suicide by further additions to our problems of pollution. If we do we will pay a frightful penalty.

To my mind there is only one form of pollution, that of the sea, because all pollution winds up in the sea. We have got to study that aspect. There may be pollution by noise and there may be air pollution by car fumes and so on, but you will find that all pollution ends up in the sea. Therefore, we can see that the sea is the major problem. When Thor Heyerdahl first sailed the Kon Tiki across the oceans he saw certain pollution and some flotsam over a certain area but on the last occasion the pollution had spread over the whole area. He saw pollution right across the whole ocean and he reminded us that even plankton, which are able to produce more oxygen than any other such species, were being destroyed by oil pollution. He did not mention untreated sewage. With our sources of power becoming more and more dependent on oil, we run the risk of a disaster like that of the Torrey Canyon. It could be worse because the tankers are getting bigger and bigger and there could be a break-up of one of them off Donegal or Cork or Kerry.

We realise that pollution by sewage is not nice, and doctors assure us it is not a health hazard, but we must do everything possible to keep our rivers clean by filtering. We must ensure they will not be polluted by inorganic matter. We must try to ensure against pollution of the air and of the seas so that we will hand over to the next generation the knowledge that we recognised the problem and tackled it in the best way possible.

If this Bill does nothing but bring to the notice of the Minister for Local Government and the powers that be that a serious problem has arisen, it will have done a good day's work. I congratulate Deputy Luke Belton on the excellent case he made for the Bill. He went into great detail and backed it up by producing newspaper cuttings. I do not go very much of the way with Deputy Moore who has an approach to this with which I do not agree. Like me and everybody else in the House and most people in the country, he is against pollution but his idea that the only real pollution is that which occurs in the sea is hard to support.

I honestly believe that the pollution causing the greatest harm in this country is that caused by sheer carelessness on the part of people who should know better, by people who do not bother to try to prevent certain things happening. Deputies Moore and Belton referred to untreated sewage and though it may have been all right when people did not know better to have untreated sewage pumped into rivers later used as bathing spots by children and adults, it is inexcusable in the seventies to have still a situation in which no effort is made by some local authorities to prevent untreated sewage being pumped from old and new housing schemes into rivers.

The siting of dumps for towns, villages and large rural areas along the sides of rivers can only be described as a scandal. I do not understand why local authorities decide that the proper place to put a dump is along a river but in almost every town throughout the country the dump is close to the river. We hear talk about reclaiming the land but if the dumping of refuse results in polluting the river the loss is greater than the gain. Recently there have been cases of unsorupulous persons emptying sewage containers, effluent from septic tanks and crude oil into the dumps. Sometimes they take crude oil from depots in this city and in larger towns and bring it into the rural areas for disposal in the dumps. The result is that the effluent flows through the dump and into the river; there was one case where the effluent went into the sea and was washed back on to the beach. Everyone wondered where the tar came from.

The uncontrolled use of various types of insecticides by the farming community can be harmful. There is a tendency to wash out the containers in the local streams when the insecticide has been used. This practice must be condemned and should be stopped. Some silage pits are sited so that the effluent flows into a small stream and then into a bigger stream. There is no doubt that the effluent will kill every living thing that comes in contact with it.

I do not know why a better effort is not made to try to educate the people about the abuse of waters in our country. Long ago all the songs about Ireland mentioned the lakes and streams and generally gave the impression that even though we were not a rich country we had plenty of water. It is difficult to make some people understand that there is a grave shortage of water and that this shortage is likely to increase. I understand that the cause of this shortage is that most of the country is on a limestone base. Those of us who live in the country know that because we have had three reasonably good summers it is difficult to get water supplies.

We know that a stream may be reasonably safe even though it carries a certain type of effluent while there is a large supply of water but it becomes a death-trap when the level of water goes down and when the stream becomes a trickle. I can never understand why so-called responsible people who know they are polluting a stream continue to do so when the level of the water has dropped considerably. We know that some creameries discharge effluent into streams and even though a few hundred yards downstream there may be dead fish nobody seems to worry about it. This is a clear sign that something has gone wrong.

Deputy Moore stated that certain of the organisms in the sea create oxygen. It is well known that various types of fish life are necessary and that if it is destroyed it can result in disaster. I listened to a television programme recently and I heard a scientist explain that if he thought that because of pollution the world was likely to come to a sticky end by the end of this century he would be slow to mention this fact publicly because it would create terror among the public and it would do more harm than good. However, he calmly proceeded to say that unless something was done quickly the end of the seventies would see a serious situation arising in Europe—by Europe I presume he was talking about Britain and this country. If the situation is so serious that those people who are trained to examine what is happening make such a prediction, surely public representatives should take the necessary steps to ensure that this calamity is prevented.

I was interested in the comment made by Deputy Moore that domestic sewage does not cause much harm. The Deputy quoted a doctor who is supposed to have said that while it might be unsightly it did not do much harm. I know of one river into which raw sewage is pumped; it is estimated that the mussels that are picked from the river—even though they may be the largest mussels one could get—are very dangerous to eat because a high proportion contain a typhus bug. In the circumstances, surely it is ridiculous to suggest that raw sewage does not cause any damage.

One may think of pollution only in terms of tin cans and paint cans floating down a river. They look unsightly but they are not dangerous if their contents have not been toxic. What causes the trouble is the pumping of effluent and various kinds of poisonous substances into rivers. To suggest that the only danger that exists here is the pollution of the sea by sewage is ridiculous. Last year there were complaints that it was dangerous to swim at the seaside resorts around the city. I remember making a comment here that we were lucky because in my constituency we have seven miles of beach which is judged to be free of any kind of pollution. At the time I thought this was a good plug for anyone who wanted a holiday where he could swim. If it is true that Dublin Bay is so polluted that people can no longer swim near it action should be taken by people in authority—I nearly said by Dublin Corporation, but there is no Dublin Corporation. Deputy Moore wondered if our legislation is sufficient to deal with this problem. If it is sufficient we are not making good use of it.

The greatest argument in favour of this Bill is that so far we have not been successful in remedying the problem. The Minister for Local Government, who has responsibility in this matter, must admit that either he is not doing his job or he has not got the legal power to do it. He will be in a cleft stick when he comes to reply to this debate. Either way he will appear to be wrong because if he opposes the Bill we must assume he considers he has adequate legislation to deal with the problem. If he does not oppose the Bill, then we must assume that there is adequate legislation but he is not using it. Therefore, I would be very interested, next Tuesday, evening, to hear his comments as to what exactly is the position.

There is one thing missing. Millions of pounds are being spent under various headings by countries all over the world. The most expensive experiment of all is, I suppose, space probes. Is it not extraordinary that, with all that type of money being spent, nobody has yet come up with a reasonable alternative to the sewage disposal system which has been in operation for so long? Is it not really remarkable that nobody seems to have got any way of dealing with crude sewage except to pipe it into a sewage farm and subsequently out to sea or to some place where it is considered it will be safe. Some of the money which is being wasted in other ways could usefully be spent in developing a sewage disposal system.

I should like to pose a question to the Minister. Does he feel that some of the smaller sewage disposal methods which have been introduced—I emphasise "smaller" because I understand that they are able to deal only with very limited quantities—are, in fact, doing all that is claimed for them by the manufacturers or could he or his Department provide a list of sewage disposal systems which they consider are able to deal adequately with sewage disposal? This is a very important matter.

All of us who are on local authorities are involved in planning. Deputy Belton seems to think that we only make recommendations. I would agree with Deputy Moore that, in fact, they are no such thing. A person who applies for planning permission for the building of a house gets an instruction and as far as he is concerned that is the law and he must carry it out. Otherwise he cannot build his house. Therefore, they are not merely recommendations.

It is rather odd to find cases where a number of persons have applied for permission to build houses and eventually it is discovered that, even though they have no sewage disposal system except the old-fashioned septic tank, the effluent from that septic tank finds its way into a river and in some cases further down the river there is a village being supplied with water from that river. Surely there is something wrong in that case and there must be some way of dealing with it?

Another type of pollution is caused by household refuse. There should be regulations making it compulsory to destroy this material. In some countries such material is collected and processed and resold under various headings. In this country we see people emptying bins on to an open truck. Some of them have solved the problems of the dumps by putting the refuse on a flat truck and by the time they go from house to house the material is scattered all over the road for miles. One can see newspapers and all sorts of unmentionables scattered along the hedgerows. There should be a regulation governing the type of vehicle to be used for refuse collection and an effort should be made to dispose of refuse in a manner that will ensure that it will not reappear in public.

I happen to live pretty close to where there is a dump. While the person in charge of it has been making an effort to keep it in order, people who have not got that public spirit come along at night with lorry loads of papers, cardboard and so on from a local town and dump it anywhere at all close to the dump. Ultimately the material is blown into the local river and pollutes it. This practice should be dealt with very severely. Again, the Minister may consider that he has the necessary legislation and, if he has, I would ask him to issue directions to local authorities that the strongest possible action should be taken to prevent this practice.

I would also ask the Minister to ask local authorities to insist that under no circumstances would anybody be allowed to put into public dumps effluent from septic tanks or oil which is picked up in depots many miles away and which will get into the local stream or river. This cannot be the ideal way of dealing with waste disposal. Unless we are prepared to face the fact that carelessness more than culpability is responsible for a great deal of the trouble, then we will continue to have pollution of waters and it will become worse as years go by.

Possibly, an appeal to the good sense or public spirit of the general public might have the effect of getting people to be more careful but, unfortunately, many people feel that they are getting away with something. In some cases they are too careless to bother. The law must be strengthened, if the authority does not already exist, to ensure that people are prevented from polluting the environment by the fact that it will cost them too much. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.