Tidy volunteers make an explosive river discovery
WW2 bomb among strange items found in clean-up of Sixmilewater
A bicycle, three scooters, golf clubs and balls, a taxi sign and a deckchair were all retrieved from Sixmilewater River in Antrim by volunteers taking part in the Big Spring Clean.
But none of these qualified as the strangest find of the day — that honour went to the Second World War bomb discovered in the bottom of the river.
It was initially thought that the device was one of the many pieces of piping that had been dumped in the river, but the item turned out to be a WW2 mortar shell.
When the volunteers clearing litter from the river realised what they had found, they called the police immediately, sparking a security alert that lasted much of Saturday afternoon.
According to volunteer Stephen Riley, the device was picked up before anyone realised what it was.
“A couple of the guys went into the water near the bridge — they had seen something earlier they thought needed to be pulled out,” he said.
“It looked metal, so they hauled it out and brought it to shore.
“Then it became evident that it was a rather unusually shaped object — it looked like a bomb, but it was small, only around 20in long. It was torpedo-shaped and was pale green.”
The Dublin Road was closed at its junction with the Lough Road and Castle Way while Army bomb disposal experts dealt with the device and took it away for further examination.
Fifteen volunteers from the Sixmilewater Trust, Antrim Borough Council, Mobile Team Adventure and Tidy Northern Ireland took part in the weekend clean-up.
The event was held in the run-up to the Big Spring Clean Week, a joint campaign by the Belfast Telegraph and Tidy Northern Ireland.
Among the litter the volunteers found deposited during recent floods were a deckchair, road sign, three scooters, a bicycle, piping, golf clubs and balls, a taxi sign, glass bottles, bottle caps and sweet wrappers — all in a 100-metre stretch close to the Antrim Forum.
A number of canoes were rafted together so that litter dragged from the water could be carried safely back to shore and put in a cage for council staff to collect.
Volunteers were warned to be careful not to cause damage to the rare wildlife that makes its home in the Sixmilewater, including Atlantic salmon, brown trout, dollaghan, breeding birds and river water crowfoot, a species of aquatic buttercup whose only home in Ireland is this stretch of river.
Meanwhile, Antrim and District Angling Association has only just succeeded in restoring salmon stocks in the Sixmilewater so it is vital to keep the watercourse as clean and litter-free as possible.
Patricia Magee, campaign officer for Tidy Northern Ireland, said: “It is worrying that people feel it is okay to carelessly dump rubbish into Northern Ireland’s waterways and think it just disappears.
“This waste washes up on our river banks and causes ecological damage and is an eyesore.
“Through the Big Spring Clean campaign, litter louts will learn that this behaviour is unacceptable.”