DUBLIN RESIDENTS have called for Austrian tunnelling consultant Geoconsult to be sacked from the controversial Dublin Harbour tunnel project after learning that the firm had failed to pay fines imposed for its part in the 1994 Heathrow Express tunnel collapse.
Outraged locals have also demanded a complete review of work carried out so far by the Austrian firm on the £160M road tunnel after claiming Geoconsult's action showed 'a complete disregard for health and safety'.
Calls for scheme client Dublin Corporation to take immediate action came after residents learned that the Austrian firm had been summoned to appear at Uxbridge Magistrates Court on 18 February to explain why it had not paid any of the £500,000 fine imposed last year (NCE 27 January). The Marino Development Action Group, which represents households above the proposed tunnel, also announced this week that it would appeal to the High Court for a judicial review of an Irish government's decision in December to approve the scheme.
Spokesman for the MADG Fintan Cassidy told NCE: 'This shows a total disregard for health and safety. We want Geoconsult to have no further dealing with the project. We would like to see a full re-examination of all its work which is clearly suspect. First, because of its track record and also because of its financial ability to carry out the work.'
Cassidy also called for Geoconsult to be banned from bidding for the supervision role during construction of the tunnel.
So far Geoconsult, in a joint venture with Ove Arup, has carried out preliminary design work, an environmental impact assessment and prepared tender documents for the 2.6km road tunnel under the harbour.
Dublin Corporation said the Austrian firm's contract would end when the construction phase began in the summer and the supervision contract would go out to open competition.
Geoconsult is preparing tender documents for the design and build contract which will be sent to five shortlisted consortia:
Hegarty/Dumez GTM/Ostu Stettin
The Miller/Nuttall/Ascon/ Beton Monierbau Portlink Consortium
Campenon Bernard/Siac/Universale Bau
The project was approved just after Christmas following a lengthy public inquiry last year. Several residents' groups had opposed the use of the New Austrian Tunnelling Method on the project, which passes beneath 2,400 homes. They argued that the method was unsafe and that a proper site investigation had not been carried out.
Dublin Port Tunnel deputy project engineer Hugh Creegan said the Corporation was aware of the situation and would be monitoring developments.