Blackwater River

22 June 2014
Below is the latest email from N I E A regarding the pollution at the Blackwater above Draperstown.


Thank you for your email below regarding the suspended solids recently observed in the above River system.  Richard McFaul is investigating it further this morning and plans to lift more samples to ascertain the impact of this discharge. 


Now I shall give an account of what we have found most recently regarding this incident.  The reports submitted by investigating officers appear below:


13/6/12 1015 hours
Confirmed presence of suspended solids in unnamed waterway which flows adjacent to Ballybriest Road.  Limited impact on Blackwater River - not visible at Blackwater Bridge.  Investigative samples collected from the unnamed waterway u/s (4mg l-1) and d/s (56 mg l-1) of the quarry.  Dye test carried out on final settlement pond, however, no dye visible in waterway.  Industrial Consents (B Mooney and R Coey) briefed on issue.  Confirmed unconsented discharge.


Further report of suspended solids in unnamed waterway.  RMcF met with Northstone Production Manager and Site Manager.  Agreed to remove water from settlement ponds, via pump, over weekend and install permant pumps the following week.  Investigative samples taken from Blackwater u/s (<4mg l-1) and d/s (6mg l-1) of confluence with unnamed waterway.


No impact on Blackwater at Blackwater Bridge.  Tractor and tanker removing water from settlement pond.

No impact on Blackwater at Blackwater Bridge.



This incident, given the impact observed on the receiving waterway, along with the laboratory results reported above, has been classed as Low Severity on NIEA’s classification system.  Our officers have not noted any impact on the Blackwater or the main Moyola river as a result of the discharge from this site.  Photographs were taken each day this week by the investigating officer and the Blackwater appears clear in each.  However, in light of you and your colleague’s ongoing concerns over the matter, we have been urgently seeking a resolution of the discharge from the Northstone site.  To this end NIEA’s Industrial Consenting team has become involved and are currently agreeing a way forward with the company to limit any further discharges of suspended solids, and to ensure that any discharges that do occur are within strictly controlled limits set by the Agency.  These discussions are still going on and we will update you when they are at a more advanced stage.  In the meantime, as you can see above, the company is taking steps to stop the discharge and on 18 and 19 June no impact was noted in the Blackwater at the location given. 


In the meantime please do not hesitate to report any further pollution concerns to us via the Pollution Hotline – 0800 80 70 60.