IT has emerged that those responsible for a major pollution incident at Dungannon’s Park Lake will be immune from prosecution, and never formally identified.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has revealed that about 5,000 litres of red diesel polluted the picturesque lake, which is popular among anglers and local residents, in an incident at the end of September. However, the agency has refused to name those behind the contamination, which endangered local wildlife.
The seepage formed an orange scum on the surface of the water and spread to the banks of the lake. Inspectors from the NIEA had to use a flotation boom to contain the diesel.
In a letter issued in response to complaints from a local resident, the NIEA said that they had completed a thorough investigation into the incident.
“The source of the contamination was a building belonging to the Crown estate in Dungannon town centre”, said the agency.
“This was a particularly difficult and complex investigation which was hampered by the fact that the diesel flowed through underground drains for much of its way to the lake.
“Fortunately, the NIEA, as part of its programme of monitoring risk areas, had recently carried out a detailed survey of the underground drainage system throughout Dungannon.
“As the source of the pollution was a Crown building, prosecution is unfortunately not possible because of Crown immunity.”
Due to the fact that the identities of polluters are only revealed when a conviction has been secured against them, the source of the Park Lake contamination cannot be formally identified, said the agency.
The NIEA added: “Those responsible for the site were directed by NIEA to engage a spill response contractor to carry out a ‘clean up’ of the lake and to initiate remediation of any ground pollution at the site where the spill occurred.
“The operators of the site have also undertaken to carry out remedial work to ensure that such a spill will not happen again.”
Park Lake has been hit by several pollution incidents so far this year, with local conservationists and anglers raising concerns about the threat to wildlife.