6,500 trout die after ‘worst’ pollution incident
AT least 6,500 brown trout have been killed at the River Cusher in Tandragee in what Environment Minister Alex Atwood described as the worst incident of water pollution during his tenure.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency, which has launched a major investigation, said it was alerted to the incident at Clare Glen by a member of the public last Thursday.
It is believed a significant volume of agricultural slurry was released from a farm on a tributary of the Cusher and resulted in a major fish-kill.
Mr Attwood said, “I was informed about this incident quickly after it occurred. In my time as Minister, this is quite possibly the worst such incident. I asked when told to be kept up to date due to the severity. All appropriate actions will be taken.”
A DOE spokesman said, “On February 28, at approximately 11am, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) received a water pollution report from a member of the public indicating there was agricultural slurry impacting the River Cusher in the vicinity of Clare Glen near Tandragee. A water quality inspector was quickly on site at approximately 12 noon.
“A farm on a tributary of the River Cusher was identified and confirmed as the source late on Thursday evening. A significant volume of agricultural slurry has been released and this has resulted in a major ‘fish-kill’ with mortalities confirmed as a total of 6,500 brown trout (figure includes 1,737 juveniles). These numbers are subject to ongoing investigation and may rise.
“The reach of the river below the incident is an important nursery and spawning habitat. Given the number of fish mortalities and the water quality impact on the waterway, this water pollution incident is classified as being of high severity.
“The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) Inland Fisheries staff are aware of this incident and are working closely with NIEA.“
Newry and Armagh MLA Danny Kennedy said, “Obviously this is a very serious breach and I’m very concerned that the water course has been so badly damaged. People will react with dismay and anger that this is the case. The Department will now carry forward action against the individuals concerned.”
A member of the public who arrived last weekend for a walk at the beauty spot said he was confronted by a devastating scene.
“This is a terrible case. I came down for a walk and you could see hundreds of the dead fish lying on the river banks. If you walked from the lower car park at Clare Glen it was just an awful scene. I came across 350 dead fish within a matter of yards.”
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Weather for Portadown
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 9 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: South