A Mid Ulster councillor has hit out at the Environment Agency after finding out about an illegal landfill site in the Cookstown area through the media.
Mark Glasgow, a UUP representative and Mid Ulster Environment Committee member said he believes officials should keep elected representatives informed about such discoveries, so they can help in the fight against them.
“These things need to be made public,” he told the Mail.
“If people know that they are being investigated and warrants have been issued, they should at least inform the council.
“How do they expect to combat and stop these illegal dumps if they are not going let the public see that you don’t do this or you are going to get caught,” he added.
“I’m on the Environment Committee and I was there last night, but there was nothing on the agenda about any of that. I have read the story but nobody has shed any light on that,” he went on.
“I’m in the dark and... the council is in the dark as well as the public.”
The issue, he said “should have been put to the Environment Committee as they [NIEA] need to team up with the council.”
When issuing information to the press about the illegal dump, a spokesperson for NIEA said: “NIEA officers, supported by PSNI, undertook under warrant an intrusive site survey on lands in the Cookstown area.
“The investigation concerns allegations that waste was being treated, kept or disposed of on the site.
I’m in the dark and... the council is in the dark as well as the public - Cllr Mark Glasgow
“Controlled waste was found on the site,” they added.
“This consisted of mixed household and commercial waste including plastic food packaging, paper, textiles and trommel fines. A polluting leachate was also identified emanating from the body of controlled waste.”
Leachate is a highly polluting liquid which can contain high levels of ammoniacal nitrogen, heavy metals and organic compounds - and can be harmful to both people and surrounding ecosystems.
Speaking about the discovery, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “I am concerned about this and have asked officials to keep me informed on developments.”
But when asked by the Mail where the offence took place, DOE declined to comment.
On May 28 Cookstown police joined forces with NIEA to deal with another waste offence in the Cookstown area - which was understood to be in the Pomeroy area.
But again, a Department of Environment spokesperson said they could not reveal where the offence took place as an investigation was underway.
“We can confirm Cookstown PSNI assisted NIEA with an operation on 28 May 2015,” they said. “As this is an ongoing investigation we are unable to comment further.”
NIEA said another such operation also took place in June.