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Austrian rules for Dublin tunnel

CONTRACTORS BUILDING the 2.6km tunnel under Dublin Port will have to work to Austrian design codes, a public inquiry was told this week.

Dublin Corporation engineers told the inquiry they had been forced to adopt Austrian design codes despite the fact they are written in German because there are no existing tunnelling codes in Ireland.

'The absence of any Irish standards for tunnelling has led to us adopting the Austrian RVS standard,' said Corporation engineer Gerry Murphy. 'So whoever builds the tunnel will be working to the Austrian standards.'

The inquiry started last Tuesday. Former Health & Safety Executive inspector John Anderson, who led the initial investigation into the 1994 Heathrow Express collapse, was called to give expert evidence on the safety and risks of the New Austrian Tunnelling Method.

Anderson told the inquiry that tunnelling using NATM was safe provided all the 97 recommendations contained in the 1996 HSE report were followed. His evidence included a history of the HEX project.

Murphy claimed the recommendations would not alter the Corporation's £156M cost estimate for the scheme, despite the fact that this was made before publication of the HSE's HEX report.

But members of the residents group opposing the project, Marino Development Action Group, insist that the Corporation and its engineers Ove Arup and Geoconsult have not costed the project properly.

'We believe they have not allowed enough money to carry out the

NATM work safely,' said MDAG secretary Fintan Cassidy. 'They should take the tunnel elsewhere or do it properly.'

Cross examination of the Dublin Corporation engineers came on Monday after the Corporation had completed a four day presentation setting out the case for the tunnel. The Corporation claimed that the tunnel will form a vital part of the strategically important Northern Port Access Route and its construction would be environmentally and economically safe. Opponents of the scheme will present their arguments next week.

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