Checking for the presence of certain dangerous substances in surface waters is required of all EU member states by a 1976 directive. Ireland having hitherto failed to do so, and having failed also to comply with other requirements of the law, the European Commission recently announced legal action in the European Court of Justice (ENDS Daily 5 February).
An EPA official admitted that the government's knowledge of levels in the environment of certain pesticides, heavy metals and some volatile organic compounds had until now been "a blank sheet". Generally good results from the survey reflected the country's lack of heavy industry, he said.
The EPA plans to begin testing on a regular basis but is waiting until an EU list of priority hazardous substances is agreed before it decides on which it will test and how often.
Irish EPA, tel: +353 53 60600.
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