Fort clean-up to end in 2014
THE decontamination of Fort George will not be completed until April 2014 despite the Department of Social Development’s (DSD) plans to lease the site to the North West Regional Science Park (NWRSP) before then, according to the Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland.
According to the Minister ILEX has advised that the current timeframe for completing the entire Fort George decontamination project is April 2014.
“It should be noted that the timeframe for this project is not fixed as the necessary tests have not yet been completed and the remediation strategy has not been produced and agreed with the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency and City Council’s Environmental Health department,” he stated.
In July the Sentinel reported how arsenic, asbestos, explosives and radioactive chemicals at Fort George could harm people and the environment according to a professional assessment conducted to support a major mixed use planning application for the former MoD site.
The extensive contamination on the site is the consequence of nearly a century of its use as a shipyard and military base.
According to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) the site contained residual TNT, other explosives and ammunitions; various oils and hydrocarbons; solvents; paints; metals including arsenic, lead and zinc; ammonia; polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs (banned by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001); and organotin compounds such as tribuyltin or TBT (banned by the International Maritime Organisation).
It was previously hoped decontamination would be finished by June 2012. Now tenders won’t even be returned until January next year.
Recently Mr McCausland revealed DSD will “lease part of the site to the North West Regional Science Park in 2013/14 although DSD will retain the freehold for the site, but the land will be controlled by the Science Park.”
This means NWRSP will be leasing the former army base whilst decontamination is still ongoing.
In April Mr McCausland revealed the proposed science park at Fort George may still be unfinished by 2015.
Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland revealed he was budgeting for expenditure on the ILEX flagship project up until 2015.
And in August the fact that the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) had finally moved to offer ILEX, Northern Ireland Science Park (NISP) and the Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LIT) £12m to progress the scheme was broadly welcomed by Londonderry MP Mark Durkan and others.
Earlier, this year NISP Chair Frank Hewitt warned that the byzantine administration of the grant bid for the Science Park had been “disappointing” and that funders needed to realise opportunities “will very often slip away” if timescales were not met.
Over the past number of years Fort George was swept for evidence of nuclear and chemical weapons storage during its use as a naval and military base and declared clean by the consultancy firm advising ILEX on the remediation of the site for a £250k fee.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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