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Portadown Pollution Incident

07 March 2012 9:29

NI Water has pleaded guilty to causing a pollution incident from its combined sewer overflow (CSO) at Foundry Street, Portadown on 12 March 2009.

Discharges from CSOs happen when the sewers are hydraulically overloaded and cannot cope with the volume of flow. A CSO discharge avoids potentially more serious flooding from the network which may affect domestic properties or pose a danger to health. Discharges from CSOs occur during times of heavy rainfall or when there is a problem with a blockage or a restriction of the sewer downstream.

A spokesperson for NI Water explained,

“This pollution incident was caused by a combination of a technical problem with one of the pumps and a blockage in the second pump which caused it to stop working. Staff on site discovered the cause of the blockage was a towel.

“An investigation into the incident also highlighted an issue with the alarm system. NI Water has reset this alarm to ensure it triggers at an earlier point and therefore provides greater advance warning to staff of problems.

“NI Water takes any issue of pollution extremely seriously and has taken steps to ensure a similar incident at Foundry Street does not happen again.

“NI Water, however, is asking for the public’s assistance to help reduce these occurrences by not placing inappropriate items in the toilet, down a drain or into the sewers. Sewerage systems are not designed to deal with the disposal of fat, oil and grease or items such as cotton buds, nappies, sanitary items and wipes. They often cause major blockages such as this one, which can easily be prevented.”

NI Water believes that the fine of £500 plus £24 costs reflects the court’s recognition that this incident was not severe, did not require a clean up and public amenity was not affected. NI Water cooperated fully with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency throughout this process.

The spokesperson continued,

“NI Water views the protection of the environment as a major priority and invests significant resources and measures to safeguard it. NI Water is the only public body in Northern Ireland to have earned International ISO 14001 status, an international standardisation award based on a company’s environmental management system.

“NI Water has invested approximately £490 million over the last three years to bring the sewerage network system and wastewater treatment works up to an acceptable standard. With ongoing investment, NI Water will continue to improve wastewater services for the people of Northern Ireland.”

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