Sewage treatment plant was not responsible for fish kill, says NI Water

Hundreds of trout, salmon and dollaghan were killed in the latest pollution incident on the Sixmilewater. Pictured are just some of the fish removed from the river near Ballyclare on Wednesday morning. INNT 45-500CON
Hundreds of trout, salmon and dollaghan were killed in the latest pollution incident on the Sixmilewater. Pictured are just some of the fish removed from the river near Ballyclare on Wednesday morning. INNT 45-500CON
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Northern Ireland Water has denied suggestions that Ballyclare Wastewater Treatment Works was the source of pollution which led to the latest fish kill on the Sixmilewater.

Official estimates suggest that more than 1,000 fish, including many trout, salmon and dollaghan, were killed in the incident last week - another major blow to the local angling community who have worked hard over recent years to improve the river environment.

Some anglers and political representatives had suspected that the sewage treatment plant may have been the source of the pollution, given that most of the dead fish were found down stream in the vicinity of the facility. However, NI Water has said that the waste water treatment works was not responsible.

“Although we await some test results from the sample taken at the discharge point of Ballyclare Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW), from the scientific results available to date, it is clear that the WwTW is not linked in any way to the unfortunate fish kill which occurred at the Sixmilewater on Wednesday, October 29,” a spokesperson said.

“NI Water is not aware of the outcome of any other investigations which may have been carried out at other locations and facilities outside its control.

“NI Water staff acted quickly following the news of the fish kill and were on site shortly after to meet representatives from the local angling club and allowing NIEA access to the works for their inspections. NI Water can confirm that initial results from the extensive tests undertaken at the site have emerged clear and checks on the operation of the plant have also confirmed that all assets there were working normally.

“As a local stakeholder for the Sixmilewater river, NI Water will continue to engage with the local angling club and assist them where possible. NI Water has invested approximately £1million in the Ballyclare WwTW which has resulted in the works complying with some of the tightest discharge consents currently imposed on the company.”

Stressing that its investigation into the incident is still ongoing, a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency said: “As part of the NIEA investigation into this fish kill statutory samples were collected from two different premises and NIEA’s investigation of events at these premises remains ongoing. A number of other potential sources of pollution in the catchment were also visited and investigated by NIEA staff, in order to rule them out of the inquiry.

“NIEA have also collected a number of investigatory water samples from the river and its tributaries and have carried out a detailed biological survey of insect life in the river and its tributaries.

“Analysis of the findings from these samples and surveys are continuing, and this remains a live, ongoing investigation.”

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