Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Muir continues battle against Kinnegar Sewage smell

I have been continuing my battle against the odour problem in the vicinity of Kinnegar Waste Water Treatment Works. I used Environmental Legislation in February to discover that over 70 odour emission incidents occurred at Kinnegar Sewage Plant during 2009. I then continued my battle by asking NI Water to disclose how heavily the contractor operating the Sewage Plant has been penalised for the Odour Emission incidents.

In early March I asked NI Water to disclose the total amount that was deducted from the monthly payments due to the Contractor as a result of the Odour Emission Incidents. Weeks later NI Water managed to send me a detailed verbose reply which in essence denied my request for this vital information.

In order to progress matters I convened a meeting with Senior Management from NI Water on Friday 16 April 2010. During the hour-long meeting, which was also attended by a local Kinnegar resident, the Director of Engineering and Procurement provided us with a detailed briefing concerning the design of Kinnegar Waste Water Treatment Works and how it compares to other facilities such as North Down Ards Wastewater Treatment Works located on the High Bangor Road, Donaghadee. 

We were informed that the Kinnegar Plant was built in the 1970s and was upgraded in early 2000s by Coastal Clear Water as a PFI project whereas the Donaghadee Plant is brand new and enclosed. We asked why the Donaghadee Plant is enclosed whereas the Kinnegar Plant is largely open. In reply the Director of Engineering and Procurement told us that whilst odour problems are largely eliminated if the sewage plant is enclosed it is very expensive and, as a result, the Kinnegar plant is not enclosed. 

During our comprehensive briefing I was surprised, but relieved, to learn that the Kinnegar Plant is operating below capacity and can easily accommodate more Waste Water from it’s catchment area which includes a significant part of East Belfast plus Holywood. 

After receiving our briefing I sought to establish what NI Water have been doing to fix the ongoing odour problem.

NI Water informed me that they have been trying to find the source of the odour problem since February 2009. We were told that NI Water hope to conclude their investigations in the next two or three months but think they have found the cause.  Whilst investigations are being concluded, plans are being put together to fix the probable cause. I was relieved to learn that they may have found a possible solution but requested regular updates and a follow up meeting to ensure the matter is swiftly resolved within the next few months. A solution is well overdue. 

Towards the end of the meeting I addressed NI Water's decision to withhold information concerning how heavily the contractor operating the Sewage Plant has been penalised for the Odour Emission incidents.  The response denying my information request stated that  NI Water and the Contractor are currently engaged in an arbitration process concerning the Odour Emission incidents. In light of the fact that NI Water hope to conclude their investigations within the next few months some light can be seen at the end of the tunnel with NI Water stating ‘NI Water is, however, minded of the fact that the information may be considered for release in the future should disputed monetary deductions be agreed and investigations completed.' I therefore intend to resubmit my request for information in August 2010 and will hopefully be able to discover how much the contractor has been penalised for the Odour Emission incidents.

People living, working or travelling past Kinnegar Sewage Plant should not have to experience the foul smells which have unfortunately been coming from near the plant for far too long. I am determined that NI Water finally resolve this matter and people be allowed to enjoy the sweet smells of summer rather than the frequent stinks they have been forced to endure.

21 April 2010

No comments: