Report recommends upgrade of Ringsend waste plant

 

An independent report into odour problems at the Ringsend wastewater treatment plant in Dublin published today recommends upgrading the plant and increasing the monitoring and licensing of discharges from businesses in the Dublin area.

The report was commissioned by Minister for the Environment John Gormley last June to establish why the plant was frequently working above its design capacity, the circumstances which were leading to the odour problem and whether the measures taken to tackle both issues were adequate.

Undertaken by Brendan Fehily, the report found while the population projections that the plant would have to deal with were correct, the pollution loads from commercial premises such as shops, restaurants and pubs were significantly underestimated.

It also highlights an unexplained error where odour levels allowed under the operational contract were twenty times the standard required in the environmental impact assessment.

Remedial work to deal with the odour problem should be complete by the end of this month and planning for an upgrade of the plant is underway.

Mr Gormley welcomed the report saying its recommendations were timely and, if followed, should ensure a high quality and well-run wastewater system for Dublin.

“I particularly note the importance of the environmental impact assessment process, and how a failure to adhere to its recommendations was a key element in the subsequent issues at the plant,” he said.

“There are also issues for all local authorities to consider in this report, and I intend to issue a circular on these matters to all local authorities in the coming weeks.”

The plant is located in Mr Gormley's Dublin South East constituency.

The Minister said he would also be referring the report to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment.

Labour TD Ruairi Quinn, who also represents Dublin South East, said it was time to move beyond merely talking about an upgrade at the plant and to actually do it.

“For far too long, the people of Ringsend, Irishtown and Sandymount have had to put up with the odour problem. Hopefully, it will become a distant memory rather than a regular occurrence,” he said.

He called for an explanation as to why there was a significant underestimation of the quantity of waste that the plant would be required to process.

Green party TD Ciarán Cuffe said he had written to the Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to ask it to investigate the planning and design of the plant.

"It appears from the report that Dublin City Council seriously underestimated the pollution load level that the plant could handle and that it has been frequently operating above its design capacity since its construction,” he said.

"I want to know why the odour levels permitted under the operation contract were up to twenty times above those allowed for in the Environmental Impact Statement. How can such a discrepancy be explained?”

Dublin South East Fine Gael TD Lucinda Creighton said "heads need to roll" over the odour problem at Ringsend.

“The people of Ringsend, Irishtown and Sandymount have endured this stench for years, and so far nobody has stood up and accepted responsibility for the plant's failure,” she said.

She called for Mr Gormley to make the report public.

“The people deserve to know what went wrong and not be kept in the dark any longer. He then needs to realise that politics is not just about commissioning reports, it is about taking action. He needs to hold those responsible for this fiasco accountable to the people,” she said.