New project at waste site to build tap water confidence

City Waste, Campsie. (0706PG52)
City Waste, Campsie. (0706PG52)

Thirty-nine new boreholes have been sunk at City Industrial Waste and Campsie Sand and Gravel upstream of the abstraction point for Londonderry’s main water supply in an attempt to build “confidence that the quality of the city’s water supply and public health will be maintained.”

The works are part of a new project initiated by the Department of the Environment (DoE) in January and which recently completed its first stage.

Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan has also confirmed that whilst “some precautionary samples of liquid taken from settling pools at the site indicated a degree of chemical content (alkaline)” it wasn’t possible to “confirm the exact level of contamination.”

In July 2013, shortly after former Environment Minister Alex Attwood revealed details of illegal dumping at Mobuoy Road on a huge scale the Sentinel reported how pollution had been detected in a Faughan tributary that flowed past the City Industrial Waste facility.

It’s suspected hundreds of thousands of tonnes of putrid waste were buried at four riverside sites near the facility just hundreds of metres upstream from where the Carmoney treatment plant extracts drinking water for 50,000 people in Londonderry. This now meets 60 per cent of Londonderry’s annual water needs.

Now Green MLA Steven Agnew has been asking the Minister if he’s confident poisonous waste material isn’t leaching into the Faughan from the contaminated sites at Gorticross.

“Significant volumes of leachate have been removed in the past largely from the lagoon on the CIW site, Mobuoy Road. This reduced the risk of the lagoon overflowing and leachate migrating towards the tributary running along the CIW site boundary,” he said.

“To further understand the movement and transport of leachate and leachate contaminated water on the wastes sites on both sides of the Mobuoy Road, my Department initiated a new project in January 2015 that will be collecting new site data to assess the transport of leachate in the subsurface.

“This work will inform the potential risks to the environment arising from the illegal waste deposits at the Mobuoy Road. Through this ongoing project, 39 new boreholes were installed on the CIW and Campsie Sand and Gravel sites in March 2015; 21 boreholes will monitor leachate quality and 18 boreholes will assess groundwater quality, groundwater levels and flow particularly in the vicinity of the River Faughan. These boreholes will be monitored monthly over a 12 month period. The first monitoring round was completed in April 2015.

“This new site data will further inform our understanding of the fate and transport of subsurface leachate and groundwater,” he said.