ALMOST two tonnes of contaminated cat litter, used to illegally launder red diesel, were dumped on the edge of the Ballinderry River near Coagh,
The toxic substance, some of which leaked into the river during heavy rain was removed the next day by Cookstown District Council.
Director of Environmental Health at Cookstown Council Mr Mark Kelso said: “This hazardous waste is a very noxious product and highly polluting.”
He said it was removed at ‘significant cost’ to the Council and may cost more than £1,000 to have properly and professionally disposed off by a specialist firm in Belfast.
“This is a major problem. It is totally irresponsible to dispose of this material in this manner,” said Mr Kelso.
A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency said it had received a report from a member of the public that two Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) containing what appeared to be fuel laundering waste had been dumped on the Ardagh Road, Coagh.
The Inspector travelled to the area and was on site within 40 minutes of the notification on Wednesday last week.
The Inspector confirmed the waste was predominantly fuel soaked cat litter, a material used to attempt to remove the marker dye from red diesel. “Some of the waste liquid was noted to be leaking from one of the IBCs. Rainfall, at the time of the investigation, was causing some of this liquid to be washed across the Ardagh Road where it was entering a storm gully alongside the road,” said the NIEA spokesperson.
“Pollution prevention measures were immediately taken to prevent further discharge to the gully and the IBCs were covered to prevent rainfall from filling them. Absorbent material was used to soak up waste liquid that had gathered in pools on the road and an absorbent boom was placed in the receiving waterway as a protective measure.”
The Inspector told Cookstown Council and DRD Roads Service.
“When the Inspector assessed the site on the morning of 9 February 2012, the IBCs had been removed by the Council with little evidence of any further spillage. The Council also removed the absorbent materials and contaminated sand from the road. Following heavy rain on the evening of 9 February 2012, some pools with oily sheen were again observed and NIEA requested that additional clean up be carried out.
“Those responsible for dumping the fuel laundering waste have not been identified,” said the NIEA spokesperson.
Mr Kelso said: “The Council has been left to bear the costs.”
He added that there had been similar dumpings, at least three in the last year.
Mr Leo Cassidy Chairman of the Ballinderry River Enhancement Association said it was a ‘complete disregard for the environment’.
Mr Cassidy said it was a ‘very poisonous material’ which had made its way into the river.
He added that trout and salmon eggs had recently been put in the river and they may be destroyed.
“We don’t know until they hatch. It may still have catastrophic consequences,” he said.
“We will be doing some tests to see how the hatching is going,” said Mr Cassidy.
He added that it could have been even worse as the waste had been dumped beside an elderly man’s gate so he couldn’t get in or out of his home.
“If he needed a fire service or ambulance no one would get into him,” said Mr Cassidy, who thanked the NIEA and Cookstown District Council for helping with the clean up.
Mr Cassidy said he believed there was an other dumping of waste at Ardboe airfield and Stewartstown within the past week.
The PSNI said the matter had not been reported to them and a spokesperson from HM Customs and Excise said it has not been informed of the matter either.