National Aquatic Environmental Chemistry Group (NAECG)

The National Aquatic Environmental Chemistry Group (NAECG) was established in 2018 to create a national expertise on hazardous substances in the aquatic environment, and to bring a more strategic and forward-looking approach to the management of hazardous substances (particularly chemicals) in Ireland.

The NAECG is a collaborative initiative that will be used to make recommendations on the review and monitoring of chemical substances of concern, assessing their risks from an environmental and human health perspective and advising on their future management.

The NAECG is chaired and administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and meets twice a year.  Its members include:

  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Marine Institute
  • Irish Water
  • Geological Survey of Ireland
  • Waterways Ireland
  • Health & Safety Authority
  • Local Autorities Waters Programme
  • Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government
  • Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine, Pesticde Registration Division
  • Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Enviroment
  • Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland

The National Aquatic Environmental Chemistry Group has been tasked by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to carry out a review of Ireland’s current list of Specific Pollutants, and their associated EQSs, to determine whether they are still appropriate for Ireland.

The review will also look to identify new candidate substances of concern for possible inclusion in a future revised list

Chemical Monitoring Programmes

In Ireland a number of national agencies, including the EPA, the Marine Institute (MI) and Waterways Ireland are responsible for the chemical monitoring programmes for surface waters based upon the requirements of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) – Directive 2000/60/EC.  Under this Directive, a European ‘priority list’ of substances posing a threat to the aquatic environment was established, with the aim of reducing, or eliminating, pollution of surface water by the substances on the list. 

The list must be reviewed every six years at EU level to ensure that the WFD monitoring programme continues to be fit for purpose and that relevant substances of concern are included.  In considering potential new substances for inclusion on the list, the Commission reviews data from Members States’ monitoring programmes, international datasets and research projects and considers these in the context of spatial frequency, temporal frequency and the levels detected across Europe.

Member States are required to monitor for these substances as part of their national WFD monitoring programmes and the EPA and MI includes these in their national WFD surveillance monitoring programmes for rivers, lakes and transitional waters.  The current list contains 48 substances or groups of substances, including herbicides, insecticides, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), solvents and metals.  The results obtained from this priority substance monitoring are used to determine the Chemical Status of water bodies across Ireland.

In addition to monitoring for specified hazardous substances, as set out by the Commission in its priority substance and priority hazardous substance lists, Member States must also identify River Basin Specific Pollutants (RBSP) of regional or local importance, set national Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) and establish national monitoring programmes for them. 

In Ireland 16 substances, including metals, pesticides and hydrocarbons, are included in the current list of Specific Pollutants set out in Table 10 of S.I. No. 272 of 2009 (European Communities Environmental Objectives (Surface Waters) Regulations 2009).  Monitoring for these compounds are included in National WFD surveillance monitoring programmes and the results obtained are used, together with biological and hydromorphological data, to determine the Ecological Status of water bodies across Ireland.

FOI Request to EPA

FOI submitted 18/10/201 as follows, to request under FOI Act 2014

Details of the National Aquatic Environmental Chemistry Group (NAECG) Group. In particular names of the members, governance, remit and details of agendas/minutes of meetings for 2020-2021