24/01/2011

Fish Die In Sixmilewater 'Pollution' Incident

Hundreds of fish have been killed on the Sixmilewater River in Co Antrim, after a prior fish kill in the same river in 2008 - and one even further back, in 2001

The latest one in the scenic stretch of river, (pictured here by Brian McCalden) was reported to the Environment Agency on Sunday afternoon with water and fish samples taken away to be analysed to see if any specific chemicals could be identified.

Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kinahan said: "I am profoundly disappointed to find myself in the position of having to condemn yet another fish kill on the Sixmilewater River in the Ballyclare area.

"Having spent a great deal of time in the past two years working with local anglers groups, I am acutely aware of the disappointment and frustration that this will cause, bearing in mind that the river was only just recovering from a previous incident."

Antrim Alliance Councillors Neil Kelly and Alan Lawther have also expressed concern at the fish kill which occurred in the river between Ballynure and Ballyclare.

This follows two previous incidents which occurred in 2006 and again in 2008 which resulted in hundreds of dead fish in the Castle Grounds area of the river in Antrim - no prosecutions were made after the 2008 incident which was thoroughly investigated at the time.

Cllr Neil Kelly said: "Early indications are that this current incident is probably due to pollution and again will be investigated.

"There is no evidence at this time that fish and wildlife have been affected down stream from this incident towards the Antrim area.

"In recent years the river wildlife has been flourishing with otters and kingfisher a common sight on the Sixmile between Antrim Town and the Lough shore." he said.

"If indeed the cause of this incident is established and pollution is deemed to be the cause, I would hope the full rigour of the law is brought to bear on those responsible."
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Alliance Councillor Alan Lawther said: "There have been a number of incidents of this nature in recent years and they are totally unacceptable.

"To have one fish kill is a very worrying, to have several over a period of time is nothing short of disgraceful."

Just last year, apparent pollution on a scenic stretch of the river in Co Antrim was also investigated.

At the time, Michael Martin, of the Six Mile Water Trust, Antrim & District Angling Association, said that their advice to anglers was to stay away from the Six Mile Water river following the discovery of what appears to be sewage fungus coming down the river.

"The material which is light coloured and resembles what one member described as rotting flesh was first discovered last Tuesday but the source was not discovered until Friday due to problems with access because of the work on the motorway bridge at Templepatrick," he said.

"Our own investigations have found an absence of the material above Ballyclare Sewage facility but a heavy accumulation immediately below," he noted, pointedly.

However, after the NI Environment Agency investigated, nothing conclusive was identified.

There is a history of such incidents, and as far back as July 2001, a pollutant had entered the waste water treatment works at Ballynure with reports being issued on the same day of a fish kill in the Sixmilewater, renowned as a high quality-angling river.

While an emergency operation had commenced to prevent the pollutant from reaching the river, investigation by staff from the Fisheries Conservancy Board (FCB) found that, in spite of the determined efforts of the Water Service to contain the pollutant within the works, a proportion had managed to infiltrate the Sixmilewater.

See: Pollution Threat Hits Six Mile Water Anglers

See: FISHKILL SIGHTED ON SIXMILEWATER AT BALLYNURE

(BMcC/GK)

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