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Irish Independent: Judgment reserved over Shell leak row

Published: Jul 28, 2006

THE High Court has reserved judgment in a multi-million claim for damages by a county council against energy giant Shell.

The legal action followed the leakage of petroleum products from a Shell petrol station which halted construction of new civic offices in Trim, Co Meath.

Damages estimated at between 5m-6m are being sought by the Meath Co Council after a hydrocarbon discharge in 2001 from a petrol station owned by Irish Shell Ltd at Watergate Street, Trim, contaminated an adjoining site previously used as a car park for the local swimming pool.

The petrol leak was detected in January 2001 after a sheen from hydrocarbons was observed in the nearby River Boyne.

The council is seeking damages for consequential losses and costs incurred because the contractor they employed to build the civic offices has not been able to do any work since April 2001.

Earlier in the hearing, Mr Justice Vivian Lavan ruled that correspondence exchanged between the parties constituted an agreement by Shell that it (a) accepted responsibility for the pollution; (b) would remedy what Shell described as the “unfortunate event” and pay all costs and damages to the council to include all consequential losses.

The council want Shell to clean up the site to a level agreed by the parties. But while Shell admits responsibility for contamination, does not accept responsibility for any losses arising from the council’s decision to enter into a contract to construct the offices.

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