Wednesday, 26 February 2014

NIEA investigating extensive slurry spill in Ballinderry River near Cookstown

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) is investigating a report of an extensive spillage of slurry into a tributary of the ‘Ballinderry River’. 

The incident was reported via the Water Pollution Hotline (0800 80 70 60) this morning and Water Quality Officers were immediately on site, near Cookstown, Co Tyrone. 

The environmental impact has been assessed as high.

It has been confirmed that a significant volume of agricultural slurry, estimated to be in excess of 400,000 gallons, has escaped from a farm in the area. Some of the slurry has reached the Ballinderry River and potentially up to six kilometers may have been affected. 

NIEA investigations are ongoing into the circumstances and environmental effects of the incident, including that samples have been collected with a view to necessary enforcement action once the investigation is complete. 

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “I am concerned that such a large amount of slurry has polluted the local environment here. The important thing now is for the problem to be addressed quickly and professionally. I welcome the fact that NIEA staff have acted swiftly here and I will be keeping a close eye on developments.”

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) Inland Fisheries staff have been made aware of this incident.

The source of the spill has been identified but as an investigation is ongoing the Agency is not able to provide further detail of the location.

All media queries should be directed to the DOE Press Office on 028 9025 6058. Out of office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

Statement from Justice Minister regarding "on the runs"

Justice Minister David Ford has commented on the NIO scheme put in place for “on the runs”.

David Ford said: “The first I became aware of this scheme and the associated letters issued was after the Downey court decision and shortly before it became public. It was never introduced to me either before, at the point of devolution or since devolution in April 2010.

“Comments made by the Secretary of State in the House of Commons that letters have been issued since the devolution of justice are deeply disturbing. I have demanded a meeting with the Secretary of State and will be meeting her later this evening to clarify who has signed these letters.

“What I do know is that none of these letters have issued from the Department of Justice. What we don’t know is what the implications may be for prosecutions and for our crucial efforts to find political consensus on how to deal with the past. 

“It is important that the victims of this, and all the other atrocities, are remembered and sensitivity observed.” 

For all media queries, please contact the DOJ Press Office on 028 9052 6444. For out of office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via paper number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.