Northern Ireland Water Fined For Pollution Incidents

Government-owned company Northern Ireland Water (NI Water) – set up back in April 2007 – has just been fined £80,000 in total for two separate pollution incidents at treatment works in Annsborough and Killinchy.


The organisation was fined £20,000 for the Annsborough event and £60,000 for Killinchy, where two incidents took place.


A spokesperson for the supplier said that the company accepts full responsibility for the events that resulted in the fines being handed down, but did note that because of the size of the network in operation there is always a risk that incidents of this nature will occur – although this is regrettable.


They went on to state, however, that the utility regulator does set the company “stringent targets” to help drive down these occurrences and the firm has met and exceeded these targets consistently since 2008. In order to achieve this, investment in better, more effective equipment has been made and members of staff have received additional training.


“These actions, and the investment required to implement them, are an indicator of how seriously NI Water takes pollution and the lengths we will go to, to prevent a repeat occurrence.


“NI Water views its responsibility to the environment with the utmost seriousness, having invested £500 million in the network over the last three years, helping make our rivers and beaches the cleanest that they have ever been.


“It should be noted NI Water treats 340 million litres of waste water every day through a network which comprises over 15,000 kilometres of pipes and more than 1,000 wastewater treatment works,” the representative went on to say.


Earlier this year, the European Environmental Agency published a State of Our Waters report, revealing that just 40 per cent of the surface water bodies surveyed by the organisation were considered to be in a good ecological state – despite biodiversity protocols and EU laws.


According to the Guardian, England emerged as one of the poorer performers in this regard, with water quality in the country in the bottom half of the European table.


Speaking to the news source, lead author of the report Peter Kristensen said more intensive agriculture, higher population densities and better waterway monitoring had all contributed to the findings.


He explained that Scotland’s situation is currently better than England’s, where only about 45 per cent of the sites looked at failed to meet the minimum standards in place. He went on to advise that England should carry on with legislation like the water framework directive after the country has left the EU.


“This report shows that we are nowhere [near] halting biodiversity loss by 2020,” Mr Kristensen said. “It is just another symptom that we will miss the targets set by heads of states. The legislation is there in the form of the EU’s water framework directive, but the political will is clearly lacking to make it work on the ground.”


A divide was also apparent between surface water and ground water sites in terms of chemical pollution – 75 per cent of groundwater samples were found to be good quality, while 62 per cent of lakes, estuaries and rivers were not.


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