A Co. Antrim farmer has been convicted at Ballymena Magistrates Court for a water pollution offence which resulted in the death of over 80 fish.
45-year-old, Mark McClelland, from Old Glenarm Road, Ballygalley, Larne, pleaded guilty and was fined £500 plus £15 offender’s levy and ordered to pay £56.52 as compensation as a result of a fish kill.
The court heard that on March 6, 2021 a senior water quality inspector (SWQI) acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) responded to a report of water pollution and inspected the waterway at Millvale, Ballygalley.
The SWQI discovered the waterway was brown in colour and foam was observed on the surface of the waterway.
The court also heard that McClelland had contacted the NIEA Hotline number to report the incident to the NIEA.
On site, the SWQI noticed signs that the reception tank associated with the farm’s above-ground slurry store had overflowed.
During discussions with the Antrim farmer, the SWQI concluded that the incident was caused by a faulty valve at the slurry store.
The slurry had escaped from the slurry store, and flowed down the adjacent sloping field towards an open field drain before entering the nearby waterway, the Ballygalley Burn.
In accordance with procedures, a tripartite statutory sample of the active discharge was collected and analysed and found to contain poisonous, noxious, or polluting matter which was potentially harmful to fish life in the receiving waterway.
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.
Effluents with high ammonia content, as was the case with this one, are also directly toxic to fish life in receiving watercourses.
On March 7, 2021, fisheries officers carried out a dead fish count, a total of 83 dead trout were counted.