Sewage plant to serve a million people but ‘not one house’ in Fingal , FF claims

Plan is an “absolute disaster” waiting to happen, senator says

Dr James Reilly:  welcomed the announcement and was relieved the plant would not be in the part of north Dublin that produces vegetables for much of the country, nor in the city.

Dr James Reilly: welcomed the announcement and was relieved the plant would not be in the part of north Dublin that produces vegetables for much of the country, nor in the city.

Tue, Jun 11, 2013, 09:37

North Dublin-based Government and opposition politicians have expressed dismay at the decision by Fingal County Council to build a €500 million regional sewage treatment plant at Clonshaugh, near Dublin Airport.

The controversial move follows years of debate and protest over the initial plan to base a regional sewage treatment plant for much of Leinster’s waste in the Fingal local authority area. The plant will be about 700m from the N32 feeder route for Dublin Airport, on the border of Dublin city and north county.

Fianna Fáil Seanad leader Darragh O’Brien described the decision as an “absolute disaster”. The plant would serve up to one million people but “not one house in Fingal”, the local authority area where it would be built. “We’re not going to have it,” he said, insisting the plan was unsustainable.

Swords facility
The Malahide-based senator said there were 15 sewage treatment plants in the Fingal area and none of them would be connected to the proposed plant. He said they were upgrading the facility in Swords, had just built a new plant in Portrane and there was a plant in the middle of Malahide.

Under the proposal, he said, the waste would be treated just twice, where the top of the waste would be skimmed to remove items such as nappies and then it would be treated with chemicals before being pumped out to sea six miles offshore, through an outflow pipe at the Portmarnock estuary.

An orbital pipe would have to be built under the M50 that would be big enough for a car to go through and it was proposed to move sewage from surrounding counties to Fingal. He believed it was a “catastrophe” waiting to happen, using 30-year-old technology.

Mr O’Brien said best international practice was to have a plant to serve 70,000 to 80,000 people and if there was a problem then it was contained in that one area. A problem in a plant for one million people would spell catastrophe for the region, he said.

He said the Firth of Forth in Scotland had built a similar-sized plant and there had been a major disaster there four years ago and there was a similar disaster in New York.

Fine Gael backbencher Alan Farrell said he had always objected to the treatment plant being built in the local authority area because of the level of capital infrastructure. It was “inappropriate and potentially dangerous” to be piping raw sewage from all over Leinster to one location, he said. The original cost was to be €1 billion, but it was now planned to spend €500 million but Fingal County council did not have the money.

Minister’s support
Minister for Health James Reilly said he welcomed the announcement and was relieved the plant would not be in the part of north Dublin that produces vegetables for much of the country, nor in the city. Admitting he had not yet read the report, he added, “The initial indications are that this will be a much more cost-effective route to take and I believe it’s on a flight path as well, so it will interfere with many less [sic] people.”

In January 2012, Mr Reilly spoke out against proposals to put the plant near Rush and Lusk in his constituency of Dublin North, citing the negative impact the outfall could have on local fisheries.