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Environment Agency can't analyse dead fish

Hundreds of dead fish were discovered in the Three Mile Water on October 13
Brendan Hughes

THE Environment Agency does not have any equipment that analyses dead fish, it has emerged amid growing concerns over major fish kills in polluted rivers.

An investigation was launched last month after hundreds of trout and salmon were killed in a river in Co Antrim.

Officials were said to be "baffled" by the fish kill at Three Mile Water, near Mossley Mill in Newtownabbey.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) confirmed it had begun an investigation into the cause of the incident.

Water samples were taken away for testing to confirm if a chemical pollutant caused the fish kill.

However, it has emerged that the NIEA does not have equipment that examines fish carcasses to help determine the source of pollution.

A Department of the Environment spokeswoman said: "NIEA has no analytical capability in respect of taking and analysing fish carcass samples."

It comes amid concerns over recent fish kill incidents including around 300 brown and sea trout that died at the River Enler, Co Down, in July.

Friends of the Earth NI director James Orr said: "The regularity of these fish kills in Co Antrim is depressing enough but for the NIEA to admit that they have no analytical capability is admitting defeat. Fish are biological indicators and can carry contaminants that need to be traced to the polluters.

"The NIEA is giving polluters a get out of jail card and creating conditions where it pays to pollute in Northern Ireland because the chances of a serious conviction are so remote.

"It is no wonder the minister for the environment has called for an new environmental protection agency."

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