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Minister on Tynes Bay: ‘very real risk of catastrophic failures if action not taken’

The Tynes Bay waste-to-energy incinerator (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

A $22 million stabilisation project has been launched at the Tynes Bay waste to energy facility in an effort to keep it operational until wider works can be done.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, told the House of Assembly on Friday that while a $150 million refurbishment plan was previously announced, the facility had since endured the failure of one of the facility’s two refuse cranes in April and vendor delays caused by Covid-19.

He warned “in the strongest possible terms” that there was a very real risk of catastrophic failures at the facility if action was not taken.

“Colleagues will know that I don't mince my words,” Colonel Burch said. “The current state of the facility is incapable of lasting this time to await the major refurbishments to commence.

“Therefore, to preserve the facility until major maintenance can begin, the Cabinet has recently approved a stabilisation programme of projects that focuses on replacing critical systems required to bridge the gap between their current condition and the newly renovated facility at an estimated cost of $22 million dollars”

Colonel Burch said funding for the project would come out of the previously announced $150 million capital programme rather than be in addition to it.

“These projects specifically target failed or obsolete systems that can be replaced without major disruption to the daily operations at Tynes Bay and will be integrated into the overall refurbishment works to avoid wasted expenditure,” he said.

“These upgraded systems are intended to assimilate seamlessly with the larger refurbishment works.”

Included in the project are the replacement of both the facility’s refuse cranes, low and high voltage switchgear systems, two auxiliary transformers, flue gas monitoring equipment, a turbine overhaul and refurbishment of the top sections of both flues.

“The estimated programme length is set at three years with the tendering process for this stabilisation programme already started and works intended to begin within the first quarter of 2023,” Colonel Burch said.

“Colleagues are informed of the urgent nature of this programme as due to supply chain issues, delivery times of 20 to 30 months is anticipated for specialised equipment and this delay will pose a significant operational risk to the facility.”

He told the House that the $22 million would be spread across three budget years, with $7 million this financial year and $14 million in the 2023/24 financial year.

The remaining $1 million would come out of the 2024/25 budget.

Colonel Burch noted that the facility had previously had to halt operation last November, resulting in 410 tonnes of refused being landfilled at Marsh Folly.

“I want to stress in the strongest possible terms that the risk of a catastrophic failure is very real,” he said.

“The plant has a number of issues that threaten the functionality of the plant – particularly the single overhead refuse crane – which if it fails will render the plant inoperable and the baling of trash will be inevitable.

“Bailing will also have to be performed in another location with garbage diverted to this new site along with storage. Every effort is being made to replace the broken crane as soon as possible.

“It is anticipated that with funding dedicated for the stabilisation works over the next two fiscal years to procure the critical parts for the Facility mentioned above, the Tynes Bay team can focus their efforts on the major refurbishment works that will manage the country’s waste requirements for the next 25 years.”

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Published October 03, 2022 at 7:37 am (Updated October 03, 2022 at 7:37 am)

Minister on Tynes Bay: ‘very real risk of catastrophic failures if action not taken’

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