Cullyhanna residents angry at latest toxic waste dumping

September 18, 2012

By Christine Keighery

The latest discovery of dumped toxic waste from illegal diesel laundering operations has left residents of Cullyhanna and local representatives in the area fuming at the total disregard shown for their environment and community once again.

The all too common indiscriminate dumping of the by products of fuel laundering reared its ugly head again last Friday, when residents discovered three large cubes of toxic sludge dumped near the Fane river at Cullyhanna.

A farmer from the area spoke to The Examiner about the find and told us how he and other residents were horrified to realise that the lethal contents of the cubes were leaking into the nearby Fane river.  Having contacted local political representatives and Newry and Mourne District Council, he and other witnesses at the scene were relieved to see the Northern Ireland Environment Agency arrive promptly to assess the situation.

The Cullyhanna farmer revealed the NIEA were forced to seal up surrounding drains in an attempt to prevent further water pollution.

Sinn Féin councillor Colman Burns, one of the representatives contacted by concerned residents, condemned those responsible for the “all too regular occurrence” and added,

“Once again, this material has been discarded close to a watercourse, further demonstrating that those who left it here have very little regard for the health and well being of the local population, not to mention animals and wildlife in the area.

“I have spoken to Council officials and they have assured me they are working with the Environment Agency to remove this toxic waste.”

SDLP Councillor, Geraldine Donnelly, who was also alerted by angry residents, branded the latest incident a “despicable act.”

Speaking to The Examiner following the find, Mrs Donnelly said that, unfortunately, this was just the latest in a catalogue of waste dumping crimes that have plagued the entire area on an almost weekly basis.

“The dumping of fuel laundering waste is a massive problem throughout South Armagh, “ she said “ and it is one which shows no signs of going away.”

“These people have no regard for their environment, let alone the safety of their neighbours and communities.

“Not for the first time, residents have woken to find toxic chemicals spewing into their rivers, causing untold environmental damage, and posing huge safety risks for members of the public.

“It would seem that those who are profiting from our misery are getting more blatant, dumping this waste in broad daylight then driving off with no consideration whatsoever.

“When I listen to members of our community, they are simply exasperated at this continual cycle of complete disregard by selfish criminals who are blatantly dragging their own communities down, all in the name of money.”

The SDLP Councillor also expressed her concern at the damage this lower quality fuel could be wreaking on the engines of those who use it.

“We all pay for these despicable crimes, in more ways than one, and I would be very interested to find out what the cost of this particular clean up operation will run to, as it is, inevitably, coming out of all our pockets.”

A spokesperson from the NIEA confirmed to The Examiner that it is currently operating a pilot partnership with a number of local councils, whereby it will remove certain illegally dumped wastes on behalf of council.  This includes waste which results from fuel laundering activity.

The spokesperson concluded, “Under these arrangements, a contractor acting on behalf of NIEA removed three integrated bunded containers, which are suspected to have contained fuel laundering waste, from Mullaghduff Road, Cullyhanna, and has taken them for correct disposal’