A number of pollution incidents have been reported on the Three Mile Water river over the Easter holiday period.
The incidents, which were discovered on Sunday and Monday, have been condemned by local conservationists and UUP MP Danny Kinahan.
Chairman of the Three Mile Water Conservation and Angling Association, Andy Moore, believes that the incidents over the weekend were caused by slurry run-off from fields close to the river and sewage overflow. He said: “The two incidents of pollution on Easter Sunday and Monday bring it to a total of four incidents classed as low severity in the past fortnight.
“When the latest incident occurred on Easter Monday, a plume of sewage turned the whole river to grey and was very smelly. This came from a pipe on the Bridge Road. This particular problem had been identified by NIEA and we are now awaiting Northern Ireland Water taking action to fix the issue.”
Mr Moore added: “Although no visible fish kills have occurred since September, the incidents ranging from domestic and unconfirmed source oil spills, slurry run-off and sewage overflows will have undoubtedly had some sort of negative impact on the river ecosystem.”
Commenting on the latest pollution incidents on the waterway, Mr Kinahan said: “This is an absolute disgrace and far too commonplace. The Three Mile Water is a natural community asset that should be protected. Thanks to concerned parties such as the Three Mile Water Conservation and Angling Association and equally concerned residents, incidents like these are able to be dealt with swiftly but the problem remains that many have a blatant disregard for the environmental repercussions of their actions.”
He added: “We need more stringent checks and harsher penalties on polluters to ensure that they treat such natural assets as the Three Mile Water with the respect it deserves. I strongly urge the Minister and the statutory agencies to work more closely together, including meeting more regularly to discuss how to ensure that incidents like this are avoided and that polluters don’t take a relaxed attitude in the assumption that they can break the law and simply apologise.”
The Three Mile Water Conservation and Angling Association have praised the swift actions of Northern Ireland Environment Agency. They have also thanked the members of the public who reported the incidents and would urge people to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious or anything of concern to the pollution hotline and to the association.