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Concerns over suspected tap water 'contamination' in south Armagh

Sinn Féin councillor Liz Kimmins has voiced concern about suspected water contamination in south Armagh
Connla Young

CONCERNS have been raised that the water supply in south Armagh may have been contaminated by a diesel-like substance.

Northern Ireland Water has said that up to 43 homes in the Meigh area, outside Newry, have been affected by the scare and that a ‘Do Not Use Tap Water for Drinking or Cooking' notice has been issued.

Bottled water has been provided to all properties affected.

It is understood residents complained about the quality of drinking water earlier this week saying it had a strange smell.

Traces of diesel are believed to have been found at the site of a diesel or petrol spill which took place three years ago, which at the time also affected water supply.

Councillor Liz Kimmins there was "huge concern" among residents living in the area.

“This issue arose approximately three years ago and my colleague Megan Fearon MLA and I were at the time involved with a series of discussions with water service and local residents,” said the Sinn Féin representative.

“NI Water officials assured us that the problems with the water would be thoroughly dealt with."

The Sinn Féin councillor has called for a full explanation with a detailed report.

Water chiefs last night confirmed there was a similar incident in the same area in 2015.

They said that, at the time, a third party spill of diesel/petrol entered the “distribution system”.

An official confirmed that officials have now uncovered a disused 18-inch pipe which contained "residual diesel/petrol".

This pipe has now been disconnected from the system.

The spokeswoman said that they are arranging to have a section of watermain and services replaced with barrier pipework to “avoid any future ground contamination impacting on the water supply”.

She said NI Water is liaising with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in relation to the contamination and that samples have been taken.

“NI Water teams have carried out a number of actions to remedy this issue, including a flushing exercise to clear the system,” she said.

“We will continue to flush as long as necessary to resolve the problem.”

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