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A family in Antrim have received more than £5,000 in compensation for an oil spill on their land.
High Court judge Justice Gillen recognised that the "unpleasantness" of having the substance flow from a neighbour's land onto their property was worthy of redress.
Kevin O'Neill and his wife Karen, along with their three children, sued Graham and Ella Tomlinson after oil escaped onto their property at Parklands, Antrim, in December 2008, according to the Belfast Telegraph
Evidence shown in the trial told of how Mrs O'Neill noticed an increasingly strong odour as she did her washing and drying the the back garden. This, in addition to a series of stuffy noses, headaches and other illness, made her think there had been some kind of chemical spill.
It was then found, jurors were told, that oil was leaking out of the defendant's tank.
To mitigate this issue the O'Neills set up a fan to remove the odour from the leak but this was not successful, preventing the family from hanging out their washing in the back garden.
In fact, the exposure was so serious that a pet dog and bird had to be transferred to another property so they were not poisoned by fumes emanating from the Tomlinson's tank.
A ruling published by Justice Gillen read: "In terms they must be compensated for the unpleasantness of living in this house during the period it took to repair the defects in the oil leak."
However, there was some good news for the defendants, who were told the amount they would have to pay the O'Neills would be reduced from £7,500 to £5,500 after the judge concluded the previous agreed settlement was too high.
While some cases of chemical leaks can yield large compensation sums, the fact that no lasting physical or mental damage was evident meant the amount awarded could only cover inconvenience and unpleasantness.
By Francesca Witney
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