|Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on February 1, 2011 at 8:40 PM|
The following is an except from the Council of Canadians, January 22, 2011, UPDATE: The story of Veolia in Brussels.
"Having won the contract in 2001 with a commitment to use a new non-combustion on-site sludge treatment technique, the wet air oxidation Athos process developed by Veolia, Aquiris started building the plant in June 2003 and completed it in 2007. The plant was given initial approval in 2007 by the Brussels region and officially started in March 2008, but there were technical problems, which stopped the Brussels authorities from giving final approval. Veolia’s Athos process proved less flexible to operate than expected.
Because of these unresolved problems, tensions grew between Aquiris and the public regional authority in charge of water and wastewater management, the Société Bruxelloise de Gestion des Eaux (SBGE). At the end of 2008, Aquiris asked the Brussels region for an extra € 40 million for complementary works, but SBGE refused to pay because this was not included in the contract. In May 2009, an SBGE inspection found that Aquiris was trying to build a new de-sanding installation (to remove sand from the wastewater) without permission, and the works were stopped. Aquiris complained that the wastewater quality was poorer than envisaged when they agreed the contract, because of the amount of sands and gravel, and that was why SBGE should pay an extra €40 millions to solve the problem. The SBGE denied there was any change in wastewater quality since the initial 2001 study and ordered a new audit of Brussels’ wastewater quality by French consultants Merlin.
Meanwhile, SBGE asked Acquiris in February 2009 whether the plant could at last become fully operational. But Aquiris said there were still problems with incoming wastewater quality. Press reports later found that Aquiris was beginning to lose lots of money, as it had to send 200 tons of sludge everyday by truck to Germany to fulfill its contractual requirements. Veolia Environnement tried to sell its shares in the consortium but couldn’t find a buyer. In late November 2009, Aquiris shut down one of the three main collectors, saying that heavy rains had further deteriorated the quality of the incoming wastewater. However, the Merlin study, published on December 8th, found there was no substantial difference in Brussels’ wastewater quality."
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