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Council fined for polluting watercourse

By Linda McKee

Fermanagh District Council has been fined £20,000 plus costs of almost £1,000 after polluted leachate leaked from a landfill site into a nearby watercourse.

The council, who admitted two charges of breaching waste and water legislation at Enniskillen Magistrates Court yesterday, were fined £10,000 on each count, the Department of the Environment said in a statement.

The landfill site has now closed but at the time of the first visit by Environment and Heritage Service Officers on April 28, 2004, it was still operational and receiving waste.

The officers inspected the site and noticed breaches in the waste management licence requiring leachate to be contained. The leachate was discharging to a watercourse without a consent.

Follow-up visits over the next two years found that there will still ongoing problems with leachate management and discharges.

The case has been adjourned a number of times over the last two years and on November 13 this year EHS officers carrying out a follow-up visit found that leachate was still being discharged to the watercourse.

Yesterday, Fermanagh District Council pleaded guilty to contravening a condition of a waste management licence and discharging a polluting matter so that it enters a waterway.

An EHS spokesman said: "Leachate means any liquid percolating through deposited waste and emitted from or contained within a landfill as defined in the Landfill Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003. It typically contains a high concentration of polluting substances.

"At the time of the first visit Glassmullagh Landfill Site, a licensed waste management facility operated by Fermanagh District Council, was still operational and receiving waste.

"It has now closed but under the EU Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC) there is a requirement to ensure that emissions such as leachate and landfill gas are properly treated as part of landfill closure procedures."

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