A father and son - Andrew McIlwaine (74) from Ballynashee Road, Ballyclare and William McIlwaine (49) from Sawmill Road, Ballyclare - were convicted and fined a total of £2,250 plus £15 Offenders Levy each at Ballymena Magistrates' Court on Wednesday (November 28th) for causing water pollution.
On August 7th and 16th 2017, a Water Quality Inspector acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency responded to a report of pollution which resulted in farm effluent being discharged to the Islekelly Burn - a tributary of the Six Mile Water.
On August 16th, 2017, the waterway was discoloured and visibly impacted with extensive fungal growth.
The inspector located a pipe discharging a brown coloured liquid with an agricultural odour, synonymous with containing silage effluent.
The inspector entered the farm at Ballynashee Road and observed a below-ground tank receiving seepage from two silage clamps and from a large midden area. The contents of this tank were found to be discharging directly to the Burn, according to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
Sample of discharge
In accordance with procedures, a statutory sample of the discharge was collected and the inspector discovered 100% coverage of fungus in the waterway, for a distance of at least 30 metres downstream of the farm.
The sample of the discharge was analysed and found to contain poisonous, noxious, or polluting matter which was potentially harmful to fish life in the receiving waterway, the DAERA outlined.
“Effluents of this nature enrich fungus coverage on the bed of the watercourse which may lead to the destruction of fish spawning sites, as well as starving river invertebrates, on which fish feed, of oxygen.” The DAERA said.