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Waste from Northern Ireland falls into sea off US coast

A clean-up is under way on the east coast of America after several tonnes of Northern Ireland household waste ended up in the sea there.

It had been part of a much larger shipment sent to fuel a US waste incinerator by County Down-based company Re-Gen.

Two large cubes of shredded waste fell as they were being off-loaded at the docks in a storm.

Re-Gen said it was a "one-off, extremely unfortunate occurrence".

One of the cubes of waste - containing about a tonne of material - could not be recovered.

Large quantities of the waste later washed up in the area.


Northern Ireland recycles just over half its household waste and sends a further 24% to landfill.

The remaining 22% is used for so-called energy from waste, burned in incinerators to generate power.

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Much of that is exported to countries like Sweden, Denmark, Cyprus, Latvia and the Republic of Ireland.

The United States appears to be a relatively new market.

Unacceptable and entirely preventable'

The County Down company had sent 8,000 bales of shredded household waste to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Company based in Orrington in Maine.

It appeared to be having trouble securing and storing sufficient waste to keep its plant going.

Re-Gen has contracts with councils in the UK and Ireland to collect and dispose of black bin waste.

Any recyclables are removed and the remaining non-recyclable waste is dried and shredded for use as a fuel.

In a statement, the company said it had been distressed to learn that one of the bales had dispersed into the sea.

"This was an unacceptable occurrence and entirely preventable," it said.

An environmental clean-up company was deployed and there have been a number of other sweeps of the coast.

Cubes damaged in transit

The terminal operator, which off-loaded the shipment, said the cubes had become damaged in transit.

It said it only became 

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