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Major slurry spill brings traffic chaos

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Major slurry spill brings traffic chaos thumbnailDrivers cautiously making their way through a flood of slurry on the A5 Omagh to Newtownstewart road (otherwise known as the Beltany Road) on Monday afternoon after a major slurry spill.

Main road closed for six hours as emergency clean-up takes place

 

INVESTIGATIONS are currently ongoing after a major slurry spill from a farm forced the closure of the main A5 route between Omagh and Newtownstewart - otherwise known as the Beltany Road - for six hours on Monday.

The incident caused a major snarl-up of traffic throughout much of the day and drivers were forced to negotiate lengthy diversions on country roads.

The drama began in the early afternoon and a spokesperson for the Department for Infrastructure told the Tyrone Constitution: "A valve in an above ground slurry storage tank became defective resulting in the slurry discharging from the tank, covering approximately 250m of the Beltany Road".

Before the road diversions were put in place motorists cautiously negotiated their way through the tide of slurry which was clearly visible close to the junction with the Rash Road.

Police subsequently closed the main road around 3pm and the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) set up the road closure and diversions which were in place until 9pm. Motorists were diverted via the Gortnagarn Road and Gillygooley Road depending on which direction they approached the scene.

Both the DfI and the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council were responsible for the emergency clean-up operation.

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency said yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) "it is currently investigating a slurry spillage at a farm on Beltany Road, Omagh".

As well as the incident causing major tailbacks on approach roads for much of the day, there was also concern that the slurry might contaminate the River Strule which is only a short distance from the Beltany Road.

Seamus Cullinan, a fishery inspector, said Loughs Agency "were very much aware of this incident and were working with the farmer in taking measures to reduce the impact on the River Strule".

 

'Alarming'

Local Green Party representative, Ciaran McClean, said the incident was "very alarming".

"I am very alarmed that such an incident could take place and it is concerning that such a quantity of waste, which has the potential to destroy aquatic life, was on a site close to a river," he said.

"I would call for a close site inspection in order to establish the facts and to ensure that this type of incident does not happen again. Our rivers and green image in Northern Ireland are one of the best selling factors for tourism and a river filled with slurry is most certainly the opposite.

"On the back of this, I feel the Ulster Farmers' Union are in a very strong position to advise their members on how to avoid such an incident happening again."

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for DfI added: "DfI took the lead in the clean-up operation to ensure that the road was reopened as soon as possible."

DfI used both internal and external resources available with assistance from Fermanagh and Omagh District Council which provided a mechanical sweeper and driver to help with the clean-up.

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