August 14, 2008

Crackdown on Polluters Urged After Fish Kill


HUNDREDS of anglers have called for an independent environment agency after it emerged Government officers have been unable to identify the source of a chemical spill which killed more than 35,000 fish in a Co Antrim river.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) admitted it has been unable to identify the source of the spill in the Sixmilewater, which killed around 25,000 trout and around 10,000 coarse fish on June 18.

So far staff have narrowed down the possible point of entry to two pipes coming from the direction of the Mallusk Industrial Estate. They are currently carrying out pollution risk assessments on business premises on the estate in an effort to trace the leak.

While local fisherman and residents appreciate the work carried out by the NIEA to track down polluters, many feel there needs to be an independent body capable of handing out bigger penalties to discourage businesses from polluting.

Over 250 anglers attended a public meeting organised by the Antrim and District Angling Association. One said many fisherman did not have confidence in the current agency to prosecute polluters to the full force of the law.

"The general consensus last night was that we need an independent agency," he said.

Acting NIEA chief executive Dr Roy Ramsay said the agency was frustrated they had been unable to identify who was responsible for releasing the pollutant into the river which caused this fish kill.

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