Locals in Ringsend are resisting proposals to significantly increase the size of the controversial waste sewage treatment plant in the area.
They sent a strongly worded submission outlining their objections to a strategic environment assessment of drainage in Dublin.
The e300 million plant, which opened in June 2003, brought to an end the dumping of more than 40 million gallons of raw sewage into Dublin Bay each day.
However, while the plant substantially improved water quality, a putrid smell has regularly affected the surrounding communities of Ringsend, Irishtown and Sandymount.
A draft environmental report prepared by consultants on the Greater Dublin Strategic Drainage Study Strategy (GDSDS) recommends that the capacity of the waste water treatment plant – which currently treats the waste of about 1.6 million people – should be extended to cater for the needs of over two million people.
However, the report prepared on behalf of the seven local authorities in the Dublin region also contains a “strategy approach” proposal that the Ringsend plant treat the waste of up to 2.4 million people by 2011 and 2.8 million people by 2031.
“This strategy approach is based on retaining Ringsend as the terminus for all flows from an extended Ringsend catchment including all future development in South Dublin, West Fingal, East Meath and ultimately even embracing North Kildare,” the report states.
Mott McDonald Petit Ltd and Environmental Resources Management Ireland Ltd prepared the Draft Environmental Report on the Strategic Environmental Assessment of the GDSDS strategy on behalf of the seven local authorities in the Greater Dublin Region.
In its submission on the report the Ringsend, Irishtown and Sandymount Environmental Group claimed that an attempt was being made to compound past mistakes by proposing to increase the capacity of the treatment plant. They warned that they would resist the potential move “by any means possible”.
The submission notes that the smell still persists in the vicinity of the plant despite the requirements of the original Environmental Impact Statement, stipulating that foul odours should be confined to the plant itself.
“This group, far from wishing to see the plant extended, would suggest that the plant be decommissioned until such time as it has been properly assessed by the European authorities to comply with EU directives on the treatment of waste,” the submission says.
“It is totally unjust, undemocratic and out of order that any one area should be expected to tolerate the serious pollution caused by the existing plant…if the plant were allowed to be extended in any way, obviously the pollution would be extended given that the plant does not operate properly.”
In response to the submission by the Ringsend, Irishtown and Sandymount Environmental Group a spokesman for Dublin City Council – which is behind the planning to extend the plant - said it was “untrue” to say that the existing Ringsend plant causes serious pollution.
“On the contrary it is acknowledged by bona fide environmental organisations, such as the EPA and An Taisce that the water in Dublin Bay has significantly improved since the Ringsend Treatment Works commenced operations in 2003,” he said.
“Dollymount, Seapoint, Sandymount and Shellybanks beaches have all been awarded Blue Flag or Green Coast awards in recent years, based on excellent water quality, which makes Dublin unique among capital cities.
“The remaining odour issues at Ringsend are currently being addressed and will be resolved on a phased basis for completion during 2008. Detailed planning of the extension of the Ringsend Treatment Works has not yet commenced but when it does the proposal will be subject to the usual statutory procedures.”