Belfast Telegraph

Minister's anger as pollution from farm waste blamed for river fish kill in Armagh

By Claire Williamson

Sixty fish have died in a major pollution incident in a river in Co Armagh.

The discovery, described as being of "high severity", was made on Wednesday in the Bessbrook River and is being blamed on farm waste.

The number of dead fish is expected to rise as the water clears.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) said: "Yesterday afternoon the NIEA received a report of pollution in the Bessbrook River, Co Armagh.

"An NIEA water quality inspector immediately visited the area to investigate the report and determine the environmental impact.

"The inspector confirmed that the river was severely impacted with farm effluent, and his investigation identified the source of the pollution and ensured that it was immediately stopped."

He added: "Further investigation revealed a fish kill had occurred. Statutory samples have been collected with a view to pursuing appropriate enforcement action, once the investigation is complete.

"An initial count by Loughs Agency officers revealed approximately 60 dead fish of a variety of species.

"Poor visibility in the water is hindering an accurate count; however the number of fatalities is expected to rise as the water clears."

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: "I am concerned about this.

"I will be monitoring developments here closely along with NIEA officials."

Members of the public are asked to call a special water pollution hotline – 0800 807060 – if they become aware of incidents in their area.

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