The 4350water Blog highlights some of the issues relating to proposals for potable reuse in Toowoomba and South East Qld. 4350water blog looks at related political issues as well.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Residents say buildings cracking near Anna Bligh's desal plant ...

Courier Mail:

Residents say buildings cracking near Gold Coast desal plant

3 July 2009

Homes and a leagues club near the Gold Coast desalination plant are cracking and sagging in another debacle surrounding the so-called showpiece of the $9 billion southeast Queensland water grid, residents say.

The complaints came as the Bligh Government admitted that taxpayers might receive a final plant with defects, despite repeated claims the project would not be accepted from contractors until all problems were fixed.

The Courier-Mail revealed yesterday that the $1.2 billion Tugun plant was plagued with problems including corroding pipework, cracking concrete, faulty valves and leaching of contaminants from a rubbish dump.

Other faults detected in the review include corroding pipes, sub-standard valves, excessive vibration, inefficient motors and faulty concrete intake and outake shafts which are taking in groundwater, and possibly contaminants, from a rubbish dump on which the desalination plant was built.

The problems prompted the State Government to order an independent inquiry. It is refusing to accept handover of the plant, which is still only operating at one-third capacity seven months after it opened, until contractors fix the faults. Locals say the plant has been a disaster for the area, causing damage to homes including cracked walls and ceilings, sagging windows and doors and lifting and shifting driveways and patios.

The Tugun Leagues Club has suffered some of the worst damage, with major cracks and other structural problems and sinking grounds.

Club officials say construction and vibrations from the neighbouring plant have left the club "looking like a warzone".

"It's dangerous for the players, supporters and members," life member and former president Mark Goodwin said.

"The conditions are Third World."

The club's junior president, Greg Solway, said the club had been promised a new headquarters on nearby land but that was now in limbo because of future plans to expand the desalination plant.

"If they take this away from us, they may as well give a (graffiti) spray can to every kid in the area, because the footy club is such a big part of this community," he said.

Southern Gold Coast Liberal MP Jann Stuckey said there had been many complaints.

She said a burst pipe had caused major damage to a Tugun road last year "and could have killed someone".

"My concern is that when the desalination plant finally does run at full capacity, there will be more faults and more damage," she said.

Ms Stuckey said 360 homes around the desalination plant and pipeline were given structural inspections before the facility was built but only 36 had been tested since it was finished.

Infrastructure Minister Stirling Hinchliffe insisted the plant, which had operated at 100 per cent capacity for "only one or two days" since January, would still work properly after the handover.

But he admitted that some sections may have lesser longevity than the promised 50 to 100 year lifespan.

A letter to co-ordinator-general Colin Jensen released yesterday reveals some defects at the plant may be unable to be fixed and may instead require a commercial settlement.

"(That may happen) where the issues are resolved to both parties' satisfaction," Mr Hinchliffe said.

But Opposition infrastructure spokesman David Gibson said the plant problems were symptomatic of broader poor planning from Labor.

"The problems plaguing this desalination plant show exactly what the Auditor-General was talking about - when a project isn't planned properly, costly mistakes can and will happen," Mr Gibson said.

See - Courier Mail - Residents say buildings cracking near Gold Coast desal plant.


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