Millions of tonnes of illegal waste to act as flood defence

A view of the River Faughan.
A view of the River Faughan.

Some of the millions of tonnes of waste dumped illegally on the banks of the Faughan will remain buried underground as a pivotal part of a flood compensation scheme that will be developed as part of the Claudy to Campsie section of the A6 project.

A consultant has said it is environmentally safe to do this provided a trench is put in place along the river to prevent contamination. Filter drains and membranes will also have to be put in place and the polluted land will have to be capped with rubble from the road construction. The news was announced by Roads Minister, Michelle McIlveen who has revealed details of plans for the site in response to questions from Green Party MLA, Steven Agnew.

In confirming the plans Ms McIlveen said: “Consultants experienced in the remediation of contaminated land have advised that the contaminated material can be left provided: a watertight cut-off trench is installed alongside the River Faughan to prevent contaminated water migrating into the river; filter drains are installed within the contaminated material to direct groundwater to a sump where it can be removed and dealt with offsite; an impendable membrane is installed over the contaminated area to prevent ingress of rainwater into the contaminated area and the contaiminated area is capped with surplus excavated material from the road construction.”

Part of the plan also includes lowering the river bank to allow a new flood plain which is intended to prevent water accumulating in the area of the main road scheme.

People Before Profit’s Eamonn McCann however queried the timing of the release of the information, saying: “There’s bound to be suspicion when official information is released on December 23. You would be silly not to ask, ‘what are they trying to hide?

“The information was that part of one of the largest illegal landfill sites in Europe is to be concreted over and is to be used as the new flood plain for the River Faughan to facilitate the new route of the upgraded A6. It was released to Steven Agnew MLA who asked an Assembly question on behalf of the Faughan Anglers. The amount of waste on the site is to be officially estimated by officials to be 1.5 million tonnes. But, this takes no account of an unknown volume of waste burued under two large ‘lakes’. The gases being released are seen bubbling on the surface of these. At its closest point, the waste is within 5 metres of the Faughan. Some two-thirds of Derry’s drinking water is taken from downstream of this ‘super dump’ according to the DRD. In March 2014 the Assembly supported a Sinn Fein motion for a public inquiry to be held into illegal waste crime. yet, a year and ten months later there is no sign of the Inquiry being set up. The Faughan anglers, residents of the area around the dump and the people of Derry are entitled to be told what is going on,” he added.