Environmental damage to historic Newry canal being assessed as polluters remain unidentified

The source of an oil spill in Newry Canal has yet to be identified, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has said.
Donal McMahon



POLLUTERS responsible for a damaging oil spill into Newry canal have yet to be identified by the council amid environmental concern by a local councillor.

The leak into one of the oldest canal ways in Europe has exposed wildlife and water species to contamination for over a week, with daily check-ups being conducted by the council.

It is not yet known how extensive a clean up operation will be with the council currently liaising with the NI Environment Agency (NIEA).

Newry, Mourne and Down Alliance councillor Andrew McMurray said: “Obviously this is a very concerning situation of pollution in Newry canal. The damage that has already been caused to the wildlife habitat and the leakage into the natural flow of the waterways and estuaries  could be detrimental.

“The waters will need to be tested and a clean up operation done immediately. Those responsible for this pollution need to be identified and must be held to account for this.

“It cannot be allowed to happen again.”

A spokesperson for Newry, Mourne and Down District Council said the oil spill was detected on March 15, adding that since then, it had worked with the NIEA to control the leakage.

"After the initial response, further steps were taken last Friday and Saturday to contain the pollution through the use of specialist booms," they said.

“These control measures are being monitored daily and have been effective. Water levels are also being managed to minimise the risk of the pollution spreading further within the canal.

“The council along with NIEA will be liaising with specialist contractors to agree a plan for remediation of the polluted area.

“NIEA is in the process of assessing any damage to the environment and wildlife habitats and will report on their findings in due course.”