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Major fish kill in Co Tyrone after slurry spill an ‘environmental massacre’


A slurry spill in Co Tyrone has caused a major fishkill. Pic: Coagh Angling Club

A slurry spill in Co Tyrone has caused a major fishkill. Pic: Coagh Angling Club

A slurry spill in Co Tyrone has caused a major fishkill. Pic: Coagh Angling Club

A major fish kill in Co Tyrone caused by a slurry spill has been described as “an environmental massacre”.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency are investigating the spill in the Claggan River, which is believed to have happened last weekend and killed hundreds of salmon and dolloghan trout.

The BBC report that the Department of Agriculture say the “significant” spill came from an above ground tank.

The Claggan River is connected to the Killymoon and Ballinderry Rivers near Cookstown.

A Department spokesperson said: "Inland fisheries officers are continuing to assess the extent and magnitude of the fish kill and the investigation remains ongoing.”

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, John Hagan from Coagh Angling Club said it will take years to repair the damage.

“We don't know the full environmental impact of it just yet, but we do know that there's probably about 12-15 miles of river near the source of the Ballinderry which is just dead,” he said.

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“That’s the feedback I’m getting from the different agencies.”

He said the “catastrophic” damage had been especially bad as the water levels were currently very low.

“We’ve lost young salmon, we've lost young dolloghan (a native species of brown trout), breeding trout, baby trout and eggs.

"All the stages of the life cycle have been wiped out."

He said it could take up to 10 years for the local fish population to restore naturally.

"The invertebrates under the stones are gone, so there’s nothing for the fish to feed on.

"This is an environmental massacre and you just have to come back from it and start bit by bit.”

He said there was a sombre mood among members and he was uncertain if the club could even continue.

"I received a cheque this morning for membership and I don’t know whether to cash it or not as I don’t know if I have a river to fish in,” he said.

Mark Horton, Chief Executive of the Ballinderry Rivers Trust, called it “a catastrophic pollution incident”.

In a statement, he said: “This is a huge setback for the decades of work that both Ballinderry Rivers Trust and local angling clubs have been doing to improve the Ballinderry’s rivers for wildlife and for the people that live work and play in the catchment.”

He has appealed to all farmers to make sure there is sufficient capacity in their slurry stores and that all above ground slurry tank valves are properly maintained and secure.

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