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Grave concerns over fish effluent dumping off North Coast

4 February, 2009

A proposed fish protein plant, due to be based at Lisahally, will be dumping a massive cocktail of fish waste and ammonia five miles off the Portrush coast if an application to dispose is passed by the Environment Agency.

The company, Donegal based KW Protein Technologies, will be dumping 180 million kilograms (180,000 metric tonnes) every January to April. The amount of ammonia involved will be equivalent to the ammonia discharge of a population of 40,000 people.

This scenario was described to Coleraine Borough Council and Sinn Féin councillor Billy Leonard has proposed that the Council immediately write to Environment Minister Sammy Wilson asking that any decision be deferred until proper consultation takes place.

Mr Leonard said:

"This is a massive operation in a purpose built ship and the possibility of such vast amounts of ammonia is bound to raise environmental concerns.

"Nobody has confirmed if tides could bring some of the effluent back in towards the coast. Nobody has confirmed the effect of that amount of ammonia will have on the fish off the coast. We don't know why disposing the effluent near Lough Foyle was discounted. We need to ask should dumping take place many more miles out to sea.

"The biggest irony of all is that the Environment Agency has admitted that they do not have the expertise to deal with this application to dispose yet they initiated a so-called consultation process of just six weeks and could make their decision by the end of February.

"This is why I proposed that the Minister defer any decision until proper consultation based on greater knowledge takes place. If he doesn't it would be the blind leading the blind.

"Tourism jobs on the North Coast must be protected so we need to know if there are environmental risks which could affect, for example, our beaches. An assurance that there 'shouldn't be an adverse effect' on water quality is not strong enough and therefore will not convince the public." ENDS

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