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Toxic waste 'polluting river that supplies drinking water' to Northern Ireland city

By Donna Deeney

Published 02/02/2016

Water from the toxic lake has allegedly flowed into the River Faughan
Water from the toxic lake has allegedly flowed into the River Faughan

Toxic waste from the biggest illegal dump in Europe is polluting a river that supplies drinking water to Londonderry, it has been claimed.

In 2014, the head of waste management at the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency, Mark Livingstone, said that despite 1.5 million litres of contaminated fluid being removed from a toxic lake in Campsie, a wet winter could spell disaster.

Following weeks of heavy rainfall - with more to come - a five foot wide trench filled with water from a contaminated lake has flowed into the River Faughan.

Members of the Faughan Anglers have repeatedly voiced concern about the pollution and environmental damage being done to the river.

Gerry Quinn, secretary of the Faughan Anglers, said their calls for a public inquiry into how illegal dumping on an industrial scale was allowed to continue at Campsie unabated for years must be acted upon.

The volume of rubbish dumped illegally in the north-west is enough to fill 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools and has been estimated at more than one million tonnes. It could take more than £100m to clean up the Mobuoy site.

He said: "We warned that this was a disaster waiting to happen and called for the clean-up of the entire site - but it never happened.

"In 2014, over 1.5m litres of polluted water was taken from this lake but then it was left. I think it was down to cost but now is running into the Faughan and it is toxic.

"We have met with the current DoE Minister Mark H Durkan and Alex Attwood before him and they said all the right things but didn't do anything. The minister needs to go to the Assembly and demand the money to get this cleaned up.

"He also needs to demand from the Executive the money for a public inquiry. The people have a right to know how this environmental catastrophe was allowed to happen and continue for so long."

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has monitored the site since the vast dump of waste was unearthed in 2012.

A DoE spokesman said: "NIEA is aware that recent and persistent heavy rainfall may have an impact on the hydrogeology of the illegal waste sites at the Mobouy Road.

"NIEA has regularly inspected the sites over the winter with the aim of identifying and resolving acute problems.

"The Agency has responded quickly and will investigate this report of potential run-off.

"While water testing at sites on the Faughan suggests good water quality in the river over recent months, NIEA has engaged with NI Water to ensure they can effectively manage drinking water abstractions from the Faughan.

"While NIEA is not aware of any issues, NI Water is best placed to comment on issues pertaining to the Derry area water supply.

"Management of the site at Mobouy remains a priority for Mr Durkan. He will be visiting the site this week."

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