Authorities are today (Thursday) responding to an incident of oil pollution in the Newry Canal, with one representative suggesting the clean-up could cost many thousands to carry out in the aftermath.
NMD Council and the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency are currently on the scene and have erected temporary booms to prevent the plume of oil from travelling further along the canal towards the city centre.
It is understood that oil was dumped in and around a manhole, which then made its way into the canal.
Justin McNulty, the SDLP MLA for the area, told Armagh I that the incident was “hugely damaging” and “environmentally destructive”.
Mr McNulty explained: “It’s pretty close to the city centre where it was dumped, which would have an adverse impact on the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.”
He added: “It’s just sad that somebody thought it was appropriate to dump quantities of oil into a manhole, which would then ultimately make its way to the canal.”
While commending the good work of the agencies who were on-site “promptly” to deal with the issue, Mr McNulty says that “the damage has already been done”, adding that the clean-up is likely to cost “multiple thousands of pounds”.
A spokesperson for Newry, Mourne and Down District Council confirmed: “Yesterday it became obvious that oil or fuel had entered Newry Canal and was appearing along Canal Quay.
“Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has reported the matter to NIEA who are currently investigating the matter.
“In the interim, steps have been taken to limit the spread of the pollution while a plan is agreed on further steps to be taken.”
A spokesperson for the NIEA added: “NIEA received a call at 12:05pm on March 15, 2023, from an official from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council reporting oil in the Newry Canal.
“A Water Quality Inspector from the NIEA was tasked to investigate the incident and subsequently confirmed the pollution.
“Investigations into the cause of the pollution are still ongoing. NIEA are continuing to liaise with the council in order to minimise the impact to the aquatic environment.”