A 70-year-old Belfast man who has admitted having an illegal dump on his wife’s land in the Hannahstown area of the Black Mountain, has gone on trial accused of operating it in a way that could lead to pollution.
Hugh Corey has admitted three charges involving the unlawful deposits, and keeping of controlled waste over a two-year period, on a site at his Tullyrush Road home, but denies keeping the waste in a manner likely to cause pollution.
Belfast Crown Court heard that inspectors from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency first visited the site in August 2011 and found a whole raft of materials, including both domestic and commercial waste, and a number of skips.
Over the next two years, said a prosecutor, inspectors revisited the site and found similar controlled waste, plastics, wood, brick and concrete.
Although Tullyrush Road was in the name of his wife, Corey accepted he had control and was responsible for the site.
The jury also learned that in February 2014, NIEA officers returned, this time in the company of police, and with a warrant and plant machinery to carry out what was termed “an intrusive examination” of the site.
This involved digging, or excavating eight trial pits to ascertain the extent of any problem.
When they arrived there were a number of lorries on site, including a number of skip lorries, and again Corey accepted responsibility for the running of the site.
One inspector, who photoed and videoed the digging of the trial pits, said there was waste scattered throughout the site.
He said the various test holes uncovered a mixture of materials ranging from red brick, plastics, concrete, treated wood, fabrics, packaging, stones, carpets, electrics and textiles, and “lumps of other materials ... all mixed up”.
The court also heard that it was estimated that over 4.5 tonnes of waste had been dumped at the site.
Samples were taken from three of the pits and sent away for analysis. The results indicated that some of the materials were non-inert, meaning that over the years they would continue to decay or rot away.
In a regulated landfill site, the ground would be prepared with a membrane or other such barriers to prevent any leakage, or leeching out, from any rotting materials.
The site would also be capped to prevent rainwater getting in, and any escaping gases would be collected. None of these measures were present at Tullyrush, which allegedly could lead to a likelihood of pollution.