Raw sewage is leaking from an unfinished sewerage treatment system just yards from where children as young as five wait for their school bus, residents of one Donegal village claim.
The Pines in Churchill is just one of 133 unfinished estates in the county that have been identified by a government report.
Residents say they are concerned about the impact that the leaking sewage will have on the health of children. One resident has described how a foul smell emerges from the treatment works which has never worked properly since residents moved in to the ten-home development five years ago. Sewage is leaking through manhole covers from three tanks in the treatment system.
The developer has been accused of abandoning the estate and Donegal County Council has been criticised for not taking the developer to task and for failing to collect €20,000 of bonds that should have been paid by the developer.
The problems being experienced by residents of the estate are echoed in unfinished housing states across the county.
One resident of the estate, father of two John Bromley, said the failure of the council to collect the bond has contributed to the problem. He said the cost of completing the estate, including the sewerage treatment works, is under €20,000 - the amount that should have been collected from the developer by the council.
“If things had been done properly in the first place, we would not have this situation with the sewage,” he said. “We feel let down that bonds were not collected on any of the properties. In a sense the council failed us.” He said residents believed the bonds had been collected but because they have not the developer has walked away. “The system is faulty and has never worked properly from day one,” he said.
Mr. Bromley’s five-year-old daughter is one of eight young children who use a bus stop close to the treatment systems to go to their primary school. “They run around, they jump over the fence and are extremely close to what is raw sewerage.” He said residents have asked the council to empty the sewage tanks but nothing has been done yet.
Another Churchill resident, who did not want to be named, said: “I do not live on the development, but am deeply angered and worried that while the situation is being ignored, local children are being put at risk.
“I wonder just how appallingly low things can get before the developers behind such developments left unfinished and unsafe, are brought to justice.”
Donegal County Council declined to respond to questions from the Donegal Democrat on the situation at the estate. A spokesman for Donegal County Council said the council does not comment on individual cases. “Where there is a risk to public health the council does have legislative powers to take enforcement action,” he said.
Local councillor Mick Quinn said the situation in Churchill reflects the situation in estates around the county where people are living in misery because of the of the lack of compliance from developers. “People are living in shoddy conditions and people are living in conditions which are clearly putting their health at risk,” he said.
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