New ‘Liffey Sweeper’ turning tide on plastic

by Gazette Reporter

A NEW river boat designed to trawl for rubbish is turning the tide on plastic and debris contaminating Dublin’s waterways.

The ‘MV Liffey Sweeper’ is the first of its kind in the capital and aims to help rid the river and port area of beer cans and plastic bottles.

Irish Nautical Trust (INT) is behind the novel environmental cleaning project which will be expanded to other city waterways shortly.

The photo shows just some of the waste collected on a single test run – which was later sorted and separated for recyling.

INT’s Rachael Murray said: “The Liffey Sweeper has been modified and fitted with a large front cage to collect floating debris.

“A sorting table has been fitted on board for the separation of materials.

“Where there is industry and human habitation there will always be a continuous flow of aquatic rubbish and debris.

“Every year, up to 13 million tonnes of plastic reaches the ocean. That is equivalent to dumping the contents of one bin truck into the ocean every minute.

“Most marine debris come from land-based sources such as storm drains, fly- tipping or discarded litter.

“Marine debris can consist of household waste, food containers, wood and logs.”

Funding for the trawler was provided by the Dublin Waste to Energy Community Gain Projects Grant Scheme.

INT’s aim is to create a full-time maritime training programme with the Liffey Sweeper and The Old Liffey Ferry No 11 as part of its training platforms.

The hope is those who are unemployed, or want to work in the maritime sector, can reach a level of competency towards gaining long-term employment in the industry.

Ms Murray said: “The Sweeper will aim to tackle waste in key areas including River Liffey from Butt Bridge, River Dodder, Dublin Port, Clontarf and Tolka Estuary.

“There are also plans to install a series of boom stations along the river to best target the waste and make collection more efficient and easier.”

She added that sea pollution causes devastation for marine life, adding: “Cormorants, terns, brent gees and many more species are significantly affected.

“Seagulls are often found with plastic bags caught around their necks unable to fly. Dead swans and other birds are found floating in the Liffey.

“The unsightly debris does not serve to enhance the iconic image of the River Liffey which is one of Dublin’s major tourist attractions.”

Keep an eye out for the ‘Liffey Sweeper’ in coming weeks – and think twice before you dump your waste!

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