COMPLAINTS ABOUT the stench coming from the Ringsend treatment works in Dublin, one of the most advanced treatment plants in Europe, have prompted an investigation by the European Commission.
Pressure by local MP John Gormley has also led to the Commission starting legal action against the Irish government for breaching European Union (EU) odour nuisance rules.
According to Gormley, lack of capacity at the works is to blame for the smell. He told NCE this week that workers at the Ringsend plant claim the facility is handling more effluent than it was designed for and he has fought for the investigation to verify these claims.
'I'm concerned about fundamental miscalculations of load, ' Gormley said. Remedial work has already been carried out to try to stem the smell but so far has not succeeded.
The £159M Ringsend plant was built two years ago by consortium ABA under a design, build and operate contract to meet European Union water quality standards in the Dublin Bay area (NCE 22 June 2000).
ABA consists of consultant Black & Veatch, contractor Ascon and operator Celtic Anglian, part of Anglian Water.
Ringsend handles discharges from three catchments, with a combined population of approximately 1.7M people. Its capacity is 11.1m 3/s.
ABA said that the works was operating within capacity even though Dublin's population had grown faster than expected. It is auditing the works to identify the exact cause of the smells.
Dublin City Council deputy engineer Battie White confirmed that remedial work had already been carried out last summer to curb noxious smells.
These included enclosing the outfall channels from the primary treatment tanks and installing fi lters to catch sulphur dioxide emissions.
White said that standby odour control units fi ted to the parts of the treatment process under cover - such as the sequential batch reactors and sludge treatment - had been pressed into full time operation.
These steps had reduced the odour problem, but he added: 'It's not as good as we want and we are reviewing the whole thing again.'