Residents imprisoned in homes for second time after another incident at Dale Farm, Cookstown

INMU1014-Cheese Factory
INMU1014-Cheese Factory

For the second time in just three months pensioners and families living in the shadow of Dale Farm became prisoners in their own homes, after an incident at the milk plant.

Emergency services were called to the company’s Moneymore Road site around 3.40pm last Saturday as a 1,000 litre drum of nitric acid was spilled within the factory’s grounds.

And on December 5, 2013, strong winds damaged a milk silo, confining most residents in the house, while one home had to be evacuated.

Pete Scott, who represents those living in the 17 Riverside homes almost engulfed by the milk and cheese plant, said they were told by police to close their windows and doors and to stay inside both times.

After the latest incident, he said, they were also warned they might have to evacuate, but to wait indoors until they heard further — which they never did.

“This is the second time we’ve had police come to our doors, [saying] don’t go outside, close your windows and close your doors because there’s a chemical hazard.

“We heard the fire engines turn up, of course when you live so close you want to go have a look and see what’s going on, so I went across there to see and at about four o’clock the hazmat people turned up.

“They had full respiratory gear on.

“Then at 4.20pm the police came and told us to stay in.

“There lot’s of OAPs here, and they were still sat in their house [at 9pm] waiting to be told there was an all-clear.

“It took my father in law to request an update from the police at about 9:15 pm.

“Dale Farm have my mobile number,” he went on “and [it] would have only took a few seconds to advise me.

They have no respect at all for this small community. We are the ones that suffer whilst they make their money.”

The Fire Service confirmed that residents were asked to stay indoors while 25 crew dealt with “a toxic cloud forming around the spill”.

Staff at Dale Farm would not comment on residents’ concerns, however a spokesperson later said “it was two completely two separate issues... There was no risk to health at any time”.