Save Tullig from West Cork Distillers

West Cork Distillers facing court case over Skibbereen pollution incident

By Calvin Jones on March 7, 2022

Skibbereen based West Cork Distillers is facing a court hearing this week in relation to a pollution incident that occurred in July 2021, causing a substantial fish kill along a 2km stretch of the River Ilen downstream of the distillery's Marsh Road facility.

IFI Assistant Inspector John Twomey with a sample of dead fish collected for analysis following the pollution incident in Skibbereen last July (IFI Communications).

The fish kill was reported to state body Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) by concerned residents, and subsequent sampling, analysis and investigation led to the IFI bringing the case against West Cork Distillers to Skibbereen District Court.

IFI inspectors estimate the incident resulted in the death of at least 2,000 fish, including mature salmon, trout, eels and flounder. The underlying ecological damage to the Ilen is likely far more extensive. While fish are the most visible casualties of any pollution event, the countless unseen invertebrates and plants that underpin the aquatic ecosystems will also have been adversely affected.

According to a recent report in the Irish Examiner, as part of its investigation, the IFI approached the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for details of West Cork Distillers' licensing for their Skibbereen facility, which they suspected as the source of the pollution incident. The EPA informed IFA that West Cork Distillers was not licensed by the EPA, even though it "appeared to be operating a licensable activity". The article explains that any facility producing over 1.9 million litres (1,500 tonnes) of pure alcohol per year requires a license from the EPA to operate. On its own website, West Cork Distillers confirms its Skibbereen facility has a distillation capacity of 4 million litres of pure alcohol.

The case comes before Skibbereen District Court on Tuesday 08 March 2022.

Article written by Calvin Jones
Calvin Jones is an author, freelance writer and naturalist who lives just down the road from the proposed development, in the adjacent townland of Clounkeen East. He is the founder of Ireland's Wildlife.

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