Investigation launched after pollution detected at local river

Recent pollution at the Six Mile Water.
Recent pollution at the Six Mile Water.

Members of the public are being urged to be vigilant and report any pollution in local rivers following recent incidents in Ballyclare.

The Times understands two separate incidents at the Six Mile Water were reported to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and Northern Ireland Water (NIW) at the end of June.

Detailing the incidents, a Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) spokesperson said: “NIEA received two separate reports of water pollution in the vicinity of Ballyclare leisure centre, one on June 21 the other on June 26. Both incidents were promptly investigated by NIEA Water Quality Inspectors.

“In the first instance, a discharge of sewage was noted, the source was quickly identified and the responsible party was tasked to take immediate remedial action. In the second instance of a discharge of white material to a tributary of the Six Mile Water, NIEA collected investigatory samples and the investigation is ongoing.

“In both incidents NIEA staff found no evidence of any significant negative impact on wildlife, including fish, in the river. NIEA will of course continue to check these locations to ensure these incidents are permanently resolved. If anyone sees pollution in a waterway they can telephone NIEA’s 24 hour Water Pollution Hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”

A spokesperson for NIW added: “NI Water can confirm a report of a pollution incident affecting the Six Mile Water. Investigations of the sewer network uncovered a blockage in the Rathmena area. NI Water staff have been on site and have cleared the blockage.

“Inappropriate items such as household wipes, baby wipes and sanitary towels must be put in the bin rather than flushed down the toilet. NI Water would appeal to customers to help us in our fight to reduce unnecessary blockages which can cause spills of sewage to property and pollution to the local river.”

The incidents were reported to the agencies by local environmental protection group, the Six Mile Water Trust.

Jim Gregg, Chair of the Six Mile Water Trust, said: “We have been monitoring these particular culvert drains that enter the Six Mile at Ballyclare leisure centre area and have reported several incidents to the NIEA over the last two years. Whilst in all incidents so far no fish kills have been attributed to the pollution, however, significant detrimental effects on the river bed are evident.”