Demands are growing for a public inquiry into the Mobuoy superdump on the outskirts of Derry City.
It’s estimated 1.5 million tonnes of illegally dumped waste have been deposited there. It’s been described as one of the biggest criminal enterprises ever undertaken in the North and as one of the largest illegal waste sites ever uncovered in Europe. A majority of the waste has been shredded to hide its source and buried in sand and gravel pits excavated by the Campsie Sand and Gravel company.
The polluters evaded paying up to £100 million in landfill tax; revenue desperately needed to fund education, public health and public transportation.
And now, Stormont’s new DUP Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen says a full clean-up could cost as much as £140 million.
Shockingly, a top NI Water boss wasn’t aware the Carmoney treatment plant, just a couple of hundred metres downstream from the superdump, extracts 60% of Derry’s drinking water from the River Faughan.
Additionally, the western edge of this super dump abuts the River Faughan Special Area of Conservation where there are important populations of Atlantic salmon and river otter.
Complaints about the running of the site had been made as early as 2008 but the full extent of the illegal dumping only came to light following a 2012 investigation. This led to arrests and the revoking of the operator’s license in June 2013 but no action has since been taken to clean up the dump.
A recently issued statement by Enagh Youth Forum, Maydown Community Association, The River Faughan Anglers, Zero Waste North West and Friends of the Earth NI argued “our ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive have failed in their public duty to confront the biggest environmental disaster ever to face our community.”
In 2014, the NI Executive agreed to hold a public inquiry into illegal dumping at Mobuoy and across the entire North. But this hasn’t happened.
Stormont has sat on its hands while putrefying waste poses a serious health risk to local residents and to everyone in Derry dependent on the Faughan for their drinking water.
For years politicians and authorities ignored or assisted the illegal dumping operation from which businesses, landowners and all others involved profited handsomely despite the potentially disastrous consequences for residents and the environment.
People Before Profit MLA for Foyle, Eamonn McCann, has pledged to make the demand for a public inquiry and full clean-up impossible to ignore. A recent meeting in Derry launched a campaign to mobilise as broadly as possible to ensure the public enquiry happens.
In launching the campaign, activists took inspiration from the Woodburn Stop the Drill struggle and pledged to link the Mobuoy campaign with the growing wave of environmental struggles across Ireland, including Save Our Sperrins push to stop the use of cyanide for gold mining there.
We will need a mass movement to win a full clean-up of Mobuoy and to put an end to profiteering endangering our public health, resources and degrading our environment.