Maralin quarry is listed as ‘high risk’

Dolores Kelly, MLA and Pat McDade at Maralin Quarry. INLM32-104gc
Dolores Kelly, MLA and Pat McDade at Maralin Quarry. INLM32-104gc

Action has been taken to alert people to the dangers of Maralin quarry after it was flagged on a list of the country’s most high risk quarries.

In June, Environment Minister Alex Attwood wrote to all councils advising them to check the safety of quarries in their area.

In correspondence between Council’s Head of Environmental Health, Audrey McClune and SDLP Assembly Member Dolores Kelly, Audrey explained reviews and visits were carried by Niall Currie, Senior EHO to those sites where further investigation was considered necessary.

She said: “One site (Maralin quarry) was identified as high risk due to the presence of a lake within the quarry and the number of potential entry points.”

A site visit was carried out by Niall on July 10 to assess location and risks. The site was visited again on July 11 with one of the site owners and signage was erected to the fencing at the entrance to the quarry as well as the fencing around the quarry face.

Audrey stated: “Niall obtained permission from surrounding landowners regarding the erection of signage on behalf of the quarry owners. Contact was made with the PSNI and contact details for the quarry owners were provided to them in the event of trespass or incidents.

The ‘MAIL’ understands a letter was issued to the Maralin quarry owners regarding the availability of additional signage and for consideration to be given to the application of dye to the water to dissuade persons from swimming in the quarry (as advised by Minister Attwood).

Posters warning of the dangers of quarries are being issued to various points of public access in Magheralin, for example shops and the GAA club.

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly, visited the quarry last week and commended Craigavon Council on its swift action in following the Minister’s guidelines on quarries.

She said: “There are never any circumstances where quarries are a safe place to play. This site (Maralin) in particular is even more dangerous because of the lakes within it.

“The important thing is to have the site properly secured and make sure everyone knows to keep out by way of signs and posters.”

Mr Attwood said: “Several people have died in disused quarries in recent years.

“Most people do not realise how very cold quarry water can be.

“It can be much colder than rivers and the sea and this causes swimmers, even the best swimmers, to cramp, go into shock and drown quickly.”