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Massive NI illegal waste site remediation detailed

The details of a programme in Northern Ireland to remediate one of the largest illegal waste sites in Europe have been set out by the regulator.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) initiated a project at the Mobuoy Road site, outside Derry, in early January 2015 at a cost of £200,000 planned over a two-year period.

In February, the company directors of Londonderry waste companies Campsie Sand and Gravel and City Industrial Waste (CIW) were charged with jointly avoiding up to £40m in landfill taxes by unlawfully dumping waste at their sites.

The NIEA’s remediation programme at the site has so far focused on:

  • removing excess waste materials from the licensed MRF at the CIW site
  • leachate removal primarily from a lagoon on the CIW site
  • installation of measures to manage surface water and surface leachates from affecting water quality in the tributary that leads to the river Faughan
  • completion of a geophysical survey and habitat report
  • installation of 39 boreholes to monitor groundwater, leachate and landfill gas across both waste sites
  • monitoring surface water quality in the tributary and the river Faughan

The NIEA said the work would produce a comprehensive picture of the potential environmental impacts of the waste and help to identify sustainable remediation solutions. 

“A range of options are expected for consideration,” it said. “An estimate of the total waste on-site and the costs for all options will become clear when the NIEA has completed this project.”

The Mobuoy site prompted a highly critical report in 2013 which identified a lack of co-ordination among the authorities tackling the problem. The author of the report, Chris Mills, is now helping the NIEA to implement changes.

The report also alleged that the Northern Ireland waste system is highly vulnerable to criminal activities due to relatively “low deterrents” for those engaging in illegal activity.

On 6 July, MRW reported that Philip Howe of the Northern Ireland Recycling Trade Association criticised the NIEA for failing to deal with the site earlier when it had known about the illegal activities “for years”.

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