22 May 2022

Council meeting suspended after heated exchanges during discussions on what needs to be done with a huge illegal waste dump in Derry

Anger over the lack of a public inquiry into the Mobuoy controversy

Mobuoy Road dump site

One of the areas in which the illegal waste was found at Mobuoy.

A meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council was suspended today after people started shouting from the public gallery.
The meeting at the Guildhall this afternoon had been organised to discuss plans to clean up a huge illegal waste dump on the outskirts of the city.
An estimated one million tonnes of waste has been dumped illegally at a large countryside site at Mobuoy close to Maydown.
It has been claimed that the clean-up could cost as much as £250m.
However, the team managing the clean-up told today's meeting that they did not yet have a final cost.
When details of the dump first emerged in 2012, it was said to have been the largest of its kind ever found in Europe.
However, since the dump was uncovered, little has been done to deal with the affected site which remains closed off.
There have been calls for the waste to be removed from the site, but environmental experts have warned that this could cause more damage.
A criminal case against a number of businessmen alleged to have been involved in the illegal dumping is ongoing.
Meanwhile, alongside the huge costs of dealing with the waste, there have also been fears that it could contaminate the nearby River Faughan which supplies drinking water to the majority of homes in Derry city.
In the wake of the shocking discovery at Mobuoy, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs set up a dedicated unit to look at ways of dealing with the site.
Members of the Mobuoy Remediation Project Team (MRPT) today attended a special meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council at the Guildhall to update local representatives on their work.
The council recently agreed to set up its own committee to monitor the situation at Mobuoy Road.
Initial estimates in 2012 indicated that the clean-up at the massive waste site could cost around £50m.
The cost estimates have risen as far as £250m.
However, MRPT spokesperson Mark Livingstone told today’s meeting that they were unable to yet put a final figure on the costs involved.
In a presentation to councillors, Mr Livingstone outlined a range of options for cleaning up the site.
These include treating the waste on site, containing the waste at the location or removing the waste.
In relation to remedial plans for the site, Mr Livingstone said they were keen 'to turn a bad story into a really good story'.
In relation to the 'complex' criminal prosecution, Mr Livingstone said he was restricted in what he could tell councillors about the case.
The meeting was suspended for a short time when people shouted questions from the public gallery.
Speaking after the meeting restarted, People Before Profit councillor Eamonn McCann questioned why a public inquiry had not been launched into the Mobuoy dump.
"I think a public inquiry is the only way we are going to get to the heart of what happened," he said.
"This cannot be allowed to drag any further."
His call for a public inquiry was supported by a number of other councillors.
SDLP councillor Mary Durkan said ‘full scrutiny’ of the circumstances behind the Mobuoy dump was needed.
“We need to restore public confidence. A full public inquiry and nothing less will restore public confidence.”
Sinn Fein councillor Tina Burke said the dump ‘did not happen overnight’.
“Someone massively dropped the ball on this and we have to make sure it does not happen again.”
Independent councillor Gary Donnelly described the situation at Mobuoy as ‘environmental terrorism’.
He said he had no confidence in efforts to tackle the situation.
“We will leave the legacy of this for our children and grandchildren,” added Cllr Donnelly.
Councillors backed a motion put forward at the meeting calling for the Northern Ireland Executive to make a public inquiry in to the Mobuoy dump a priority.
In a statement issued after the meeting, a spokesperson for Enagh Youth Forum, which has been campaigning for a clean-up of the Mobuoy site, said: “Since the discovery of the Mobuoy dump almost eight years ago, we have consistently called for all waste to be removed from from the site. This issue cannot be delayed any longer.”

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