O'Boyle Concerned At Shimna River Fish Kill

“Again, it was a member of the public who spotted and reported the pollution and fish-kill in the Shimna River. Even more worrying is the fact that this incident occurred during a low-flow period, and not during storm conditions. “NIW need to investigate the failure of its monitoring system at the pumping station which is inefficient, if not downright useless. “The Shimna river  is being polluted and the fish are being killed unnecessarily, in my view. We all want to have our faith in NI Water restored, but time and again our patience is being tested. I look forward to a report from NIW into the reasons behind this second incident and their explanation for the failure of the monitoring system on the pumping station to identify this serious overspill.” [caption id="attachment_23938" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Newcastle SDLP Councillor Carmel O'Boyle is concerned about the fish kill in the Shimna River. "][/caption] Also commenting on the fish kill incident, Shimna Angling Association Chairman Ed Kilgore said, “Our club is environmentally responsible. We try to look after the Shimna waters. We have an annual stocking program where members go out and catch mature fish with nets and a special licence these fish are then taken to a hatchery. When these fish are at the correct stage they are stripped of their eggs and these are fertilised and the resulting young fish are stocked back into the river system. This takes place for Sea Trout and Salmon, both migratory fish. The members also police the river as private water bailiffs to ensure the fish in the rivers are protected from illegal fishing. This work is totally voluntary and any expenditure comes from club funds. “So, it is with some dismay that we find that yet again a sewage spill has occurred into the Burren River system.This is the fifth time in the last five years it has happened. Along with this pollution comes a kill of the fish population and also the invertebrate life on the bed of the river. Not only does this mean that the fish do not mature and go to sea to return to spawn and maintain a sustainable head of fish in the river, but the fish which survive the pollution do not have food until that part of the river recovers. “We are told that this incident was due to a power failure and the pumps not restarting, we would ask what alerted the department to the failure? Was it the finding by a club member walking his dog and phoning in a report? And just how quickly was the system up and running? We would have thought with today’s technology a stand by system could be installed to prevent what has become an almost annual event. “Not only is there damage to the river but also the possibility of children and animals going into the water as part of their normal play having untreated sewage on their skin and fur. This sewage then makes it way unto the beach. And Newcastle beach is one of the beaches which again is mentioned as failing the MCS test for clean bathing. We also have to consider that this too is a holiday destination”. See also John McAllister’s concern on increasing coastal pollution. http://www.downnews.co.uk/downnewscoukbrief/mccallister-concerned-about-downs-beaches Down News asked NI Water why this incident occured despite a monitoring system being set up from the instalation of the Burren pumping station, and a spokesman said that high winds resulted in the pollution incident on the Burren River. [caption id="attachment_24371" align="alignright" width="400" caption="The Shimna River... the centre of a pollution row after a pumping station managed by NI Water allowed sewage to contaminate the water which has a head of salmon and sea trout."][/caption] “NI Water can confirm a pollution incident occurred in the Burren River on Tuesday 24thg May 2011.  The high winds experienced throughout Northern Ireland resulted in a power supply failure to the pumping station near the river.  This caused the pumps to stop working and the spill to occur.  Within twenty minutes of being alerted to the situation, NI Water staff had reset the pumps and prevented further pollution of the area. NI Water’s Head of Networks Sewerage, Des Nevin, added, “The high winds experienced across Northern Ireland resulted in intermittent power supply failure in parts of Newcastle. Unfortunately, these power cuts affected the operation of Burren Wastewater Pumping Station resulting in pumps not restarting when power was restored. NI Water staff attended the site and had the pumps operational again within twenty minutes of this incident being reported to them. “Regrettably, despite our best efforts, there were a number of fish killed in this incident.  I would like to thank NI Water staff who attended the site so quickly, therefore preventing a much more serious incident occurring.” NI Water added it has worked closely with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency throughout this incident. In the final analysis, as Councillor O’Boyle and Shimna Anglers Chairman Ed Kilgore have said, it was an attentive member of public who alerted the authorities of the pollution incident. It appears any failure monitoring system that was in place must have escaped the attention of NI Water.]]>