LONDONDERRY’S newly incumbent Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan says pollution detected upstream of a tap water source in a Faughan tributary near the now closed City Industrial waste plant “does not appear to have impacted” the river.
But the Minister says his lips remain sealed on the content of water and effluent samples collected by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) from the site as they may be used as evidence in a pending court action.
In Spring 2012, a Department of the Environment (DoE) officer noticed bubbles in a pond in what turned out to be a totally illegal site near City Industrial Waste, which is located on the Mobuoy Road just downstream of Gorticross. The plant was later shut down following a year long investigation into suspected illegal dumping.
In July the Sentinel reported how pollution was discovered in a Faughan tributary near the plant. According to Mr Durkan the pollution discovered at Mobuoy is currently being disposed of in Culmore.
He stated: “I can confirm that the River Faughan does not appear to have been impacted and that sufficient monitoring is in place to detect any problems at an early stage Working with NIEA, Northern Ireland Water has facilitated the disposal of the waste effluent captured in a lagoon at the former waste management site at Culmore Waste Water Treatment Works. This waste effluent will be treated at Culmore WWTW over a number of weeks. The removal of this polluting liquid from the Mobuoy Road will further reduce the risk of it entering the watercourses in the area and causing pollution. I can assure you that NIEA has in place a detailed, ongoing sampling and monitoring programme in the River Faughan and on this site, to ensure that both the river and the public are protected.”
Quizzed on the matter by Green MLA Stephen Agnew, Mr Durkan said two people have been arrested, a number of private businesses searched and a number of other people have been questioned as part of his Department’s investigations.
“The intrusive surveys took place between August 2012 and July 2013,” he said. “In addition, a number of private and business premises have been searched under warrant between November 2012 and July 2013.
“Two individuals were arrested in November 2012 and have been questioned on a number of occasions. Further individuals have been questioned.”
He promised further action stating: “The investigation continues and further action is planned. It is not possible to disclose details of planned actions as this might assist those who are subject of the investigation.”