A Derry woman has said she wants the recurring problem of a suspected sewage discharge, pooling within a walled area attached to her home, dealt with for good.
Bridie Deeney, from Rosemount Gardens, was speaking at the scene yesterday after Sinn Fein Councillor Colly Kelly contacted a number of organisations to try to get the problem sorted.
Colr. Kelly said residents were fearful a child could fall into the effluent and drown.
He said there were also fears that the murky discharge emerging from under the gable of terraced homes and seeping out onto footpaths, was a health hazard, given the strong, sickening smell emanating from it and the hundreds of dead, bloated worms floating in the liquid.
Representatives from NI Water, the Housing Executive and Transport NI carried out a site examination yesterday, with further works now planned over the coming days.
Bridie Deeney said there have been problems with the site ever since she moved into her gable home in the then new housing estate 41 years ago. Mrs Deeney, who has repeatedly highlighted the issue over the years, said: “It is coming from underneath the house and this has been an ongoing problem; it is not as if it hasn’t happened before.
“The smell is lethal. It is deep as well and I would be afraid for the children playing in the street because that’s where they play all the time.”
Bridie Deeney said she believed her home has been built directly over the top of sewage pipes and that the pipes have burst. “Every time there is a shower of rain and the manholes block up, it comes right through into this area and the smell is awful,” she added.
Councillor Kelly, meanwhile, said that no resident should have to put up with such conditions. “There is a really bad stench coming from this and there must be 300 dead worms floating about in it. During the band weather it gets worse. The residents are fed up. People are worried about young children, their grandchildren going out to play and maybe coming into contact with this, or falling into it and drowning.”
Another local resident, living a few doors away and who has a young granddaughter, also said residents were fearful for the safety of children playing in the street. “All the older children, this is where they would play, and they would do handstands up against Bridie’s wall.
“The smell is awful, even if you open your windows you smell it and chldren don’t realise the dangers.
“Yesterday they were poking sticks in it and God knows what diseases could be involved. This has been going on for years.”
A Housing Executive spokesperson said yesterday: “We first became aware of this issue on Tuesday afternoon and our maintenance officer visited on Wednesday to assess the situation and speak to the tenant. Our staff returned yesterday (Thursday) with our contractor, Transport NI and Water NI staff, to remedy the immediate problem of water ponding and to agree follow-up action regarding the drainage system as soon as possible.”
A spokesperson for NI Water, meanwhile, said yesterday: “NI Water is aware of a blocked sewer at a property in Rosemount Gardens. Alongside colleagues from other agencies, NI Water attended the site this morning and returned later the same day to unblock the sewer and carry out a clean-up operation.
“We will also carry out a CCTV investigation of the affected sewer and will implement any necessary repair work that this investigation brings to light.
“While the precise cause of this incident remains under investigation, NI Water would encourage customers not to flush inappropriate items like wipes, nappies or personal hygiene items into the sewerage system.
“These can cause completely avoidable blockages in the system, potentially leading to out of sewer flooding and pollution incidents. All too often, people don’t realise the damage they are causing to the sewerage system and to the wider environment.”
A spokesperson for Derry and Strabane Council said that while the issue has not been reported to council, the matter “will now be investigated with a view to having the matter resolved in cooperation with the other relevant agencies involved. Anyone with any concerns should contact ouncil’s Environmental Health Service directly on 02871 253 253,” she added.