Raw Sewage at Beauty Spot 6 June 2012
Northern Ireland Water facing action over raw sewage at beauty spot
The Department of the Environment is to take action against Northern Ireland Water over raw sewage being pumped into the sea at Ballyhornan beach in Co Down.
Locals say the ageing pipework is pumping raw sewage from 700 homes directly into the sea in front of the village, where it is then washed back up on the beach, leaving them to pick their way through sanitary towels and used condoms.
Following a written Assembly question from Sinn Fein MLA Chris Hazzard, Environment Minister Alex Attwood revealed that his department is in the process of drawing up a Water Order Enforcement Notice requiring screening of sewage to be carried out at Ballyhornan.
Mr Hazzard recently raised the “abysmal” conditions in Ballyhornan at Stormont. He warned the original sewerage system, built to service the now closed military camp, is no longer able to cope with the effluent and the upgrade of Ardglass wastewater treatment works is not due to be completed in the near future.
“Raw sewage from 700 plus homes is being pumped through a rusty leaking pipe that leads directly into the sea in front of the village, where it washes right back up on to the sand on the main beach,” he said.
“Local residents and those who visit the beach have to pick their way through sanitary towels, used condoms, toothbrushes and other waste washed up on the tide line on a daily basis. Residents are increasingly concerned and understandably angry with the ongoing situation, indeed they are fearful the health and safety of their children is being put at risk through exposure to growing levels of unsatisfactory pollution.”
Mr Hazzard said he will now be writing to Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy to find out what action NI Water will be taking to comply with the notice.
Mr Attwood said his department had determined the appropriate treatment requirements for Ballyhornan to consist of a long sea outfall and fine screening.
A spokesman for his department said: “As a result of several public complaints in 2009, NIEA instructed NIW to repair the long sea outfall pipe as it was in very poor condition and leaking sewage onto the beach at low tide. NIEA can confirm that NIW undertook satisfactory repairs to the long sea outfall pipe, completing them by June 2009.
“An inspection of the Ballyhornan sewerage network by NIEA officers as late as Friday, May 25 indicated all appeared to be working fine with no evidence of raw sewage on the beach or being washed back in by the tide.
Officers will be keeping an eye on the site especially during the bathing season and any evidence of pollution will be acted upon immediately.”
A NI Water spokesperson said: “The situation at Ballyhornan is one we are anxious to resolve as quickly as possible and plans are well advanced for the installation of a screening system and a pumping house… unfortunately these plans could not be taken forward until such times as we can obtain land and a separate right of way to allow us to commence work on the facilities which NI Water recognises are urgently needed.”