State loses EU water pollution case


The European Court of Justice has ruled that Ireland is in breach of EU regulations protecting water quality and has failed to implement pollution-reduction measures in designated shellfish sites around the country.

In a ruling published today, the court found that Ireland has failed to fulfil its obligations under the 1979 European Shellfish Directive, under which EU states are required to introduce laws protecting areas where shellfish grow.

The 1979 directive requires member-states to designate each shellfish production area in its jurisdiction and to implement water quality standards that would allow molluscs to be eaten safely in a raw state.

However, according to today's ruling, the State has failed to identify enough areas for protection and has failed to implement measures in designated shellfish sites to protect them from pollution threats such as the discharge of untreated urban wastewater.

Ireland has designated only 14 shellfish areas under the directive, although there are several hundred commercial shellfish enterprises around the coast.

In 2004, the European Commission said the Government's proposed measures to prevent the pollution of such waters by untreated urban waste, which can cause harmful microbes, do not go far enough.

The court ruled that under Article 69(2) of the Rules of Procedure, Ireland, as the unsuccessful party in this case, must pay the costs.