Monday 19 October 2009

Glass Bottle site may be 'effectively worthless' due to toxic waste issue

A ruling on allegedly high levels of toxic methane gas at the former Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend, part owned by state company the Dublin Docklands Development Agency (DDDA), will determine whether the project is "effectively worthless" and whether the semi-state agency will be forced to spend even more public money on the project.

The board of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will decide in the next few days whether the 24-acre site, bought for €412m in 2006 by the DDDA, Bernard McNamara and Derek Quinlan, has managed to make use of €30m to remove and clean contaminated soils and methane gas from the site.

Methane was produced because parts of the site were for four decades used as a main Dublin dump for household waste.

Any possibility of the DDDA retrieving money from the project's remaining value, which has been officially written down by 85% last week, now depends on the EPA decision, Phil Hogan, Fine Gael's environment spokesman told the Sunday Tribune.

EPA files show that a former EPA inspector Malcolm Doak, in a four-page technical submission to the EPA in late July, alleged 30% levels of methane gas existed on the site's perimeter and that the project therefore posed a "significant gas risk".

Arup Consulting, the engineers working on cleaning the site, in August wrote to the EPA rejecting Doak's claims and said that "best practise" preparing contaminated land for "future proposed high density mixed-use development" were followed. Doak, a leading professional hydrologist, is understood not have worked on the Glass Bottle site while at the EPA.

Hogan said that the site was "worthless" because more money will be needed to prepare it for proposed high-density residential use.

Calling for an investigation into the roles as owner, developer and powerful planning authority played by the DDDA, Hogan said that "effectively the value of the site is nil.

Sunday Tribune

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