County Londonderry farmer fined for causing water pollution

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County Londonderry farmer Eric Scott Thom (54) from Quarry Road, Magherafelt has been convicted and fined £750 plus £15 Offenders Levy at Magherafelt Magistrates’ Court today for causing water pollution.

On 23 June 2017, a Water Quality Inspector acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, examined an unnamed tributary of the Grange Water, part of the Moyola River system. The Inspector observed grey fungus on the bed of the waterway and an agricultural odour of silage was detected. The Inspector discovered silage effluent flowing into the inspection chamber from an open field drain. The open field drain was covered in white fungus.

The Inspector examined the silage clamps where they discovered silage effluent flowing across the concrete and discharging to the silage effluent tank. Silage effluent was observed flowing down an embankment, before entering an open field drain. The liquid in the open field drain was yellow/orange in colour with a strong smell of silage effluent. Further inspections revealed a black drainage pipe actively discharging yellow/orange liquid to the open field drain. Silage effluent was evident back to the inspection chamber.

In accordance with procedures, a statutory sample of the active discharge was collected from the inspection chamber. The Inspector estimated the rate of discharge as approximately two litres per minute.

The sample of the discharge was analysed and found to contain poisonous, noxious, or polluting matter which was potentially harmful to fish life in the receiving waterway. Effluents of this nature enrich fungus coverage on the bed of the watercourse which may lead to the destruction of fish spawning sites, as well as starving river invertebrates, on which fish feed, of oxygen.

Anyone wishing to report a pollution incident can call the 24 hour Water Pollution Hotline on: 0800 80 70 60.