Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Police confront driver of waste-dumping convoy

Police were called to the scene of a suspected illegal dumping operation in south Armagh on Tuesday last (24 July), days after the site was closed by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).  

Angry residents of Station Road in Jonesborough had vented their outrage through the pages of The Examiner last week at being subjected to “living among the stench of landfill” emanating from the tonnes of waste material they claim is being dumped on a daily basis in fields adjacent to their homes by convoys of trucks and tractor-trailers over the last two months. 

The concerned families, whose homes are nestled in the heart of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Jonesborough, with Slieve Gullion mountain and Forest Park just a kilometre away, told The Examiner they were “like prisoners in their own homes” unable to leave doors or windows open or let their children out to play.  

At breaking point over the situation and concerned about the potential health risks for themselves and their children,  residents called in the NIEA, who visited the site on Thursday 19th July and witnessed the dumping operation for themselves.  Having taken soil samples, the environmental body closed the site for further tests to be carried out. A similar waste dumping operation at the location was investigated by NIEA, the Rivers Agency and the PSNI two years ago, say residents.

On Tuesday morning, a Station Road mum encountered a tractor-trailer travelling along the narrow country lane to the field and, after questioning the driver about his activities and discovering that he did not have any appropriate paperwork, she contacted police who arrived in a fleet of cars to the scene. 

“Five carloads of PSNI officers arrived. They surveyed the dumped waste material and spoke to the tractor driver,”  said the angry resident, who added that “everyone living here has had enough of this intolerable situation.”

“The rolling green fields we were promised when we bought our houses have never materialised.  Instead we are living with the most unbearable stench of waste and the land has been turned into boggy marshland.  We can’t let our children out to play.

“We are all so concerned as to what’s going on here and about the potential health risks to ourselves and our children, not to mention the possible contamination of the land and the waterways. 

“The NIEA have apologised to us and told us these activities ‘have just fallen through the cracks’.  What’s going on here right under everyone’s noses is unbelievable! 

“This a huge operation involving tonnes of waste material being transported here and dumped right out in the open on a daily basis.  We want to know how this can possibly be allowed to happen and we will not stand for it continuing.  

“We want all agencies to come on board and help us. We’ve had enough of living beside landfill.  It is an unbearable situation and we can’t simply sit back and allow this to happen again,” the worried mum added.  

Police have advised the residents that under no circumstances should any more vehicles be travelling to the site and that they should be contacted immediately should the convoys return.  The PSNI confirmed they had spoken to a number of individuals after being called to the Station Road site at around midday on Tuesday 24 July. A PSNI spokesperson said responding officers obtained information “which will be forwarded to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) in due course.”