Belfast Telegraph

Anger at delay in sorting oil leak

by Natalie Irvine

Residents of the Tullyard Way area have had to endure 11 days of coughing, painful headaches and watery eyes as a result of over-powering fumes coming up through their sinks and toilets — leaving them with no alternative but to keep their windows open in minus four temperatures.

The ‘heavy diesel smell’ began coming up through the pipes of the houses off the upper Knockbreda Road on Sunday, November 28, and has affected most of the street.

Resident William Moore said: “This is affecting so many people and it’s a real emergency. My neighbours next door are two pensioners and they can’t keep their window open too much because of the cold.

“The fumes hit you in the back of the throat and my eyes haven’t stopped watering. We have been told the fumes aren’t toxic but that they are an irritant. You can’t sleep at night with the smell and it’s hard because I have to get to work in the morning.

“I have phoned a few different agencies about this but to date no one has come to my house to assess the smell, and the levels of it.

“I ended up calling our local councillor Michael Copeland to ask for help. He came out to see us last Saturday morning and couldn’t stand the smell — he later told me after he left he had the taste of diesel in his mouth for over five hours. He has been on to the various agencies on our behalf which we are thankful for— we really hope something comes of it.”

Mrs Sarah Agnew who lives further up the street from Mr Moore said: “The wait to get this cleared up has gone on for too long now, the smell is still as intense now as it was a week and a half ago. We are all waking up with headaches every morning, the smell is so unbearable. We keep our windows open but it so cold in our bathroom it’s extremely cold to even take a shower. Our gas heating bills are through the roof.”

Mr Agnew added: “Michael Copeland contacted us to let us know the fumes have been identified as home heating oil, and we are waiting for it to be properly flushed out of the system.

“I really think a letter needs to be sent out to local homes who have oil heating asking them to check if their tank is leaking.”

“Someone from environmental health came out when we first reported this, then we saw one man in a van who tried to disperse the oil with chemicals, but it hasn't worked. We really need a whole team on the case to flush this out.”

Mr Copeland said he had chased the issue up with agencies including Castlereagh Borough Council, NI Water and the Housing Executive. “It’s taking too long to sort out. The smell is unbearable,” he added.

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