Saturday, 17 February 2007

Final report brings a close to Erris landslides

Anna-Marie Flynn writing in the Western People during the week noted how the final report on the Pullathomas Landslides has been submitted to Mayo County Council, drawing a curtain on the 2003 disaster, which left North Mayo in a state of shock.
February 16th will see a community draw a line under the events of September 2003 as Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Eamon ” Cuív will officiate at the rededication of the local graveyard and unveil a commemorative plaque.
More than three years after the landslide at Dooncarton Hill, the re-instatement works have been completed, ensuring the risk of future occurrences has been brought to a minimum.
Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Gerry Coyle, was one of the first at the scene on the night of September 19th 2003. Speaking to the Western People, he said that he was glad the project had come to completion, bringing positive news to North Mayo.
“I was one of the first people there and I can tell you honestly it was a harrowing experience for all involved. It was extremely traumatic but from day one, the County Council, Minister ” Cuív and the OPW worked together.”
“Rehabilitation works have continued since that very night and the work is now done. Thankfully everyone has done the work that they said they would and the final phase of barrier and berm installation took place before last Christmas,” he said.
The kenetic barrier installation was the first project of its kind in Ireland, recommended by the Austrian Service for Avalanche Control.
“This negative situation has come full circle and is now a positive for the area - we have worked together as a community to deal with and prevent events like that of 2003. The council, emergency services and engineers must be thanked for leading that work,” he said.
The final report, submitted by Tom McDonnell, Executive Engineer to Director of Services Peter Hynes, details the works carried out to date and includes photographic evidence of improvements made.
On September 19th 2003, approximately 80mm of rain was decanted on the 5km crest of Dooncarton Hill in a period of less than two hours. An estimated one million tonnes of water washed down the hillside bringing with it two hundred thousand tonnes of peat, soil and other debris. Forty individual landslides combined, resulting in widespread damage and destruction of infrastructure and property.
“The most important thing is that there was no loss of life on that night. There could have been lives lost but the community worked together to make sure that people were safe,” said Cathaoirleach Coyle.
Mayo County Council commissioned PJ Tobins Consulting Engineers to assess the state of the hillside and to advise on the likelihood of further landslides occurring of this nature, categorising them as low, medium or high risk areas. As drainage works progressed in early 2005, Tobins produced a final report stating there were only four areas of High Risk. These were then pinpointed for the installation of landslide barriers and additional berms.
A joint venture between two Austrian companies HTB and Trumer Schutzbauten won the contract to work with Shevlin Engineers in erecting kenetic barriers on Dooncarton Mountain.

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