Northern Ireland news

New environment minister urged to hold public inquiry into Derry dump

More than a million tonnes of waste was dumped on land near the River Faughan in Derry
John Monaghan

A PUBLIC inquiry should now be held into a massive dumping site in Co Derry, Foyle MLA Eamonn McCann has said.

More than a million tonnes of material is thought to have been buried at Campsie, Co Derry.

The clean-up cost has been estimated at a minimum of £20 million - and potentially as much as £100m.

The site on the Mobuoy Road lies near the River Faughan, an important salmon river.

In 2014, then environment minister Mark H Durkan said he would be seeking Executive agreement for a public inquiry.

However, last month the new minister, Michelle McIlveen, appeared to rule out an inquiry in the short term in response to a question from her predecessor.

She said: "The activity is subject to ongoing criminal proceedings. The previous Executive did consider suggestions for a public inquiry, but, due to those ongoing actions highlighted... did not conclude agreement on a public inquiry before the end of the last mandate."

Ms McIlveen added: "As far as I understand, those reasons still stand. I would need to see the outworkings of the criminal proceedings before we would make any decision."

The minister said the department had identified three options for cleaning up the site, including a capping system to contain the waste, on-site treatment or excavation and disposal.

"These options will be subject to detailed evaluation with an integrated remediation strategy developed with costs once the risk assessment to protect the River Faughan is completed in October 2016.

"The minimum estimated costs reflect those for the containment remediation option; these costs are in the region of £20m. The maximum estimated costs are for the excavation and disposal option; these costs are in excess of £100 million."

Mr McCann urged the DUP minister to look again at holding a public inquiry.

The People Before Profit MLA said he would like to see the waste removed but added that there were considerable concerns about exactly what substances are in the dump.

"It could be dangerous to move it and nobody can be sure what is there. We should have expert advice on this.

"What worries the people living around it is the lack of knowledge - it is not known what is there by people living within sniffing distance of it."

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