Tuesday 24 October 2017

Board of ESB to discuss Cork flood ruling

Flood compensation action could cost ESB up to €90m
Flood compensation action could cost ESB up to €90m
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

The ESB faces up to 500 compensation claims within the next seven days unless the State power authority agrees to conciliation talks over the €130m Cork floods.

The revelation came as ESB board members refused to comment on the escalating fall-out from the flood compensation action which could now cost the power agency up to €90m.

The ESB board will meet in two weeks' time to discuss the crisis.

A legal brief on the 550-page High Court judgment will be presented to the board and they are likely to be asked to sanction an appeal against the ruling.

The majority of ESB board members did not respond to either telephone messages or email queries yesterday.

But one board member, Sean Kelly, a worker representative and TEEU trade union official, told the Irish Independent he was not in a position to comment.

"I haven't even seen the (High Court) judgment. I believe it runs to over 500 pages. I can't really say anything," he said.

Mr Kelly also declined to comment on the ESB's decision to vigorously contest the compensation claims over the past six years.

The ESB board includes chairman Ellvena Graham, Anne Butler, Dave Byrne, Andrew Hastings, Sean Kelly, Seamus Mallon, Tony Merriman, Noreen O'Kelly, Peter O'Sullivan and Noreen Wright.

Cork residents and business owners hit by the disastrous River Lee floods in November 2009 now have one week to lodge claims before the statute of limitations expires.

The ESB is considering an appeal against the High Court ruling that it was 60pc liable for the flood damage caused to University College Cork (UCC).

The High Court ruled that an unprecedented discharge of water from the Inniscarra dam after torrential rainfall in the Lee Valley was a key factor in the worst floods in Cork history.

Large sections of the city centre were left underwater, a major quay wall collapsed, the city's main water treatment plant was left inoperable and a major hospital had to be evacuated.

"The last thing in the world that anyone wants to see is several more years spent fighting this matter through the courts," Mardyke Residents Association spokesman Barry Keane said.

Solicitor Joe Noonan said his clients wanted settlement talks with the ESB.

The ESB insisted it will not comment further until its legal team has reviewed Mr Justice Max Barrett's judgment.

Irish Independent

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