Friday 20 April 2018

No resolution in sight for Albatros eyesore

Site owners say no work will commence until budgets allow

The skeletal remains of Albatros fertiliser plant.
The skeletal remains of Albatros fertiliser plant.

David Looby

The owners of the Albatros eyesore looming over New Ross are not committing to carry out any works on the site in the foreseeable future.

The plant has long been regarded as a ruin at the entrance to the town on the Waterford side, but once employed hundreds of people.

Cllr Michael Sheehan is due to raise the lack of activity on site by its owners at this Wednesday's meeting of New Ross Municipal District council.

He said: 'I will be asking what proposition the officials have to ensure that the owners of the site fulfil their obligations and responsibilities in light of the fact that some progress has been made, but nothing has been done in a long time so we need to keep the momentum going.'

Cllr Sheehan said he is anxious that the old buildings on site be torn down by 2019 when the new bypass is due to open.

'We are in the fight of our lives in this town and the last thing we need is something that will hold us back like an eyesore,' Cllr Sheehan said.

All work ground to a halt on the site in 2015 after the company spent in the region of one million euro removing asbestos from the skeletal remains of the plant, which straddles the Wexford and Kilkenny border.

500 tonnes of asbestos was removed over a one year period leading up until April 2015, but works have ground to a halt since. Ballywilliam company J Ryan Construction and Demolition Ltd completed the vast majority of works on site, with reportedly all of the asbestos removed from the buildings which have been a blight on the local landscape for some years.

Sheeting, fragments and guttering at the higher sections of the buildings were removed by reach crane. Ryans collected and wrapped all sheeting removed from the buildings, and the loose sheeting in and around the buildings. All of the asbestos was removed to Rialta for disposal.

A general clean-up of the site (ie loose timber and non asbestos type sheeting) and making safe of the area also took place.

The following waste was removed from the Wexford portion of site: 25 PCB containing capacitors were removed to Rilta, Licensed Waste Management Company, 23 tonnes of heat transmission oils were removed, along with 3.5 tonnes of oily water, 3.4 tonnes of contaminated soil, 236 tonnes of asbestos containing materials and 136 tonnes of metal structures.

A Wexford County Council spokesperson said all the asbestos has been removed. Cllr Anthony Connick praised the company for working with Wexford County Council and the EPA to clear the site, while allowing New Ross Tidy Towns to 'beautify' the site.

'They promised to allocate money to removing the asbestos and they did it so they were true to their word,' he said.

The next phase of works, which will see the old buildings torn down, will cost the site's owners into the millions of euros. It was hoped that work would begin in taking down some of the skeletal steel remains of Albatros fertiliser plant in 2016. Planning permission was due to be sought from Kilkenny County Council to facilitate these works, but Director of Albatros Ltd Matt Jennings confirmed to this newspaper last week that no works are planned on the 60 acre site over the coming months and that planning permission has not been sought from Kilkenny County Council.

Mr Jennings said well in excess of the budgeted €500,000 for works in 2015 was spent on site by Thomas McDonagh & Sons Ltd of Galway, adding that no board decision has been made in relation to progressing works at their New Ross site.

Mr Jennings said all the asbestos has been removed from the buildings.

He said works may commence later this year.

'We hope to start work on the site. We will see how things go in the autumn. Our financial year starts in October. We will be looking at it but we're not making any commitment.'

When asked if any developer has expressed an interest in purchasing the 40-acre site, Mr Jennings said: 'The site is not for sale, but we would welcome any interest in the site in terms of a proposed development. Everything is pretty dormant at the moment. The site hasn't been used for many years.'

Mr Jennings previously told the council in 2014 that the company has a five year plan for the prominent site.

'We did the priority things that were highlighted by Wexford County Council. The asbestos is gone and any potential contamination has been cleared up in terms of perceived risk. I can't say on behalf of the board. We fully understand that it is an (eyesore) and we will certainly be progressing things when budgets allow.'

He said 'the sky's the limit' in relation to the costs of finalising works on site to make it fit for resale.

New Ross Standard