A Dunmurry business was fined a total of £15,000, plus court costs, at Limavady Magistrates’ Courton Wednesday.
Northstone (NI) Ltd, of Kingsway, was fined for making a polluting discharge and for making a discharge in contravention of the Department of the Environment’s consent conditions.
On November 24 2014, Water Quality Inspectors, on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, responded to a complaint of sand washings in the River Roe in the Dungiven area. The source of the polluting discharge was traced to Northstone’s site at Murnies Sandpit Crebarkey, Dungiven.
A sample taken on December 9 2014 confirmed the discharge contained polluting matter, potentially harmful to aquatic life in a receiving waterway. The department’s consent to discharge states suspended solids content of the effluent should not exceed 50 milligrammes per litre.
The effluent failed to comply with the requirement and was thereforeunsuitable for discharge. Analysis showed the sample had a suspended solids level of 9,800 mg per litre, a level which, over a sustained period of time, would have a serious impact on fish life. Harmful effects include clogging fish gills, leading to stress, smothering and death, the destruction of fish spawning sites, leading to a reduction in fish population and the destruction of habitats for invertebrates which are an important food source for fish.
Suspended solids also blanket aquatic plants ,leading to reduced growth rates and reduction in dissolved oxygen levels in the water.
Northstone was fined £7,500 under Article 7 (1) (a) of the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 for making a polluting discharge to a waterway, namely the White Burn, a tributary of Black Burn and River Roe, and fined £7,500 under Article 7 (6) for contravening the terms of a discharge consent issued by the Department of the Environment.