Friday 19 November 2010

Bad smell in Ringsend costs city council €24m

Dublin City Council is facing a final bill of more than €24 million for eliminating long-term odour problems from its controversial Ringsend wastewater treatment plant.

The council will have to pay €19.6 million of the final bill itself, with the contractors for the project, ABA, paying €4.6 million.

A spokesman for the local authority confirmed that it was currently examining whether there was ‘‘any consequent liability on the part of any of the relevant parties and whether this would be covered under the council’s own professional indemnity insurances’’.

This examination was conducted following a written request to do so by the Department of the Environment.

In a written update on the issue to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recently, the Department’s Secretary General, Geraldine Tallon, said the council did not consider that it could force the contractor to meet the full cost of the ‘‘odour work’’ as part of the contract. This was ‘‘because of lack of clarity in relation to responsibilities relating to odour standards and the excess loading on the plant’’.

The Department will examine the final accounts for the scheme before deciding on the council’s eligibility for grant funding to cover the extra costs of the odour works, Tallon said.

An independent report into the historic problems of bad odours at the €300 million plant, carried out by consultant Brendan Fehily, said that elements of the operations contract agreed between Dublin City Council and construction and operations consortium ABA, were ‘‘either a serious error of judgment or a mistake’’.

The Fehily report found that calculations for the plant’s ultimate capacity were flawed, with some 225,000 users unaccounted for.

The work to remove the odour problems was conducted in 2008 and the Fehily report noted that the plant had a very positive effect on the water quality in Dublin Bay. The plant, built in 2003, was the first such waste water plant in the state to be acquired using a DBO (design, build, operate) contract.

Tallon said that the same odour and capacity problems would have arisen even if the plant had been procured under a traditional form of contract.

The Sunday Business Post

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