Another EUR 9 million is necessary for the Incukalns tar ponds cleanup project, as reported by De Facto of LTV. Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry has to find a way to acquire this amount from the European Union funds by the end of the year.
Ever since the State Environmental Service broke off the agreement with Skonto būve last year, all work at tar ponds has stopped. The situation is the opposite with expenses, however. They continue to increase regardless of whether or not work is carried out. More than EUR 400,000 has been used in the past several months to set up a temporary rain cover over the southern pond. EUR 41,900 has been paid to ensure security and EUR 34,960 – to clean up the surrounding territory. Following the break-up with Skonto būve, the environmental service also had to pay for legal services in the litigation.
The project’s initial costs were estimated at EUR 29 million. Unfortunately, current estimates suggest costs may exceed EUR 50 million. Last year, the service had spent another EUR 800,000 in a survey last year. This time it was necessary to convince the European Commission about justifications behind cleanup work. «EC has to be certain that we do not waste this money,» – explains SES Director General Aina Stasane. It is odd that it is impossible to prove to the European Commission with reports. In addition, the tar pond cleanup work supervisor Geo Consultants had provided a review of completed work. Skonto būve continued submitting reports up to the point of the break-up. «Reports provide clear information on the amount of work done, the volume of chemicals processed, and volume of tar transported,» – Skonto Būve board member Juris Petersons comments contents of reports.
The project’s leaders, unfortunately, have failed to demonstrate any money saving skills at any point of the project. This approach was beneficial to Skonto būve at first. EUR 1 million was provided to the company to complete the project approximately two years ago. Following a repeated request to be provided with additional funding, the service broke off the contract. As a result, Skonto būve failed to complete the project and approximately EUR 16 million were left from the project. In an interview to De Facto, Inga Kolegove, head of the State Environmental Service, said that this amount is necessary to hire new contractors: ‘Our current estimate suggests the project is not expected to become any more expensive. We will be able to say for sure once a new procurement has been organized.’
The procurement has not concluded. Nevertheless, it is already known that another EUR 9 million will be necessary to complete the project. «We have already said that more money will be necessary,» – as confirmed by Environmental Protection and Regional Development minister Kaspars Gerhards. He notes that EUR 16 million are left from the previous project. The government has ordered the ministry to find new ways to acquire additional funds. Experts suggest EUR 25 million may be necessary to complete the project.
Depending on the outcome of the litigation between Skonto būve and SES, it will be known whether or not the costs of the project may grow even more.