08:28 Thursday 5th December 2013
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
[P]AUL STAINTON: It’s taken just over a year to fix, but at last a multi-million pound recycling machine is again up and running. In September 2012 part of the mechanical biological treatment plant, affectionately known as The Terminator, in Waterbeach just outside of Cambridge, broke down. It should have turned the black bin waste for all areas of Cambridgeshire except Peterborough into biodegradeable material, but it hasn’t happened, so all that material has been going into the ground. Paul Greenwell is the Managing Director of AmeyCespa, the company behind the machinery. Well, congratulations,. You’ve finally finally got it fixed.
PAUL GREENWELL: Yes., it’s all up and running.
PAUL STAINTON: What took so long?
PAUL GREENWELL: It’s a very complex process. Because of the original failure, we had five months of investigations to work out the root cause, and then eight months to design manufacture deliver install and start the machine up.
PAUL STAINTON: A bit embarrassing though, isn’t it?
PAUL GREENWELL: These things happen.
PAUL STAINTON: What? A year without the plant? A year without the much heralded, much trumpeted machinery? And then you didn’t even know what was wrong with it.
PAUL GREENWELL: It was a completely unforeseen failure. How can you plan for that?
PAUL STAINTON: What was wrong with it?
PAUL GREENWELL: It was a complete failure of a bridge section.
PAUL STAINTON: Which means? Sorry.
PAUL GREENWELL: If you can imagine a big mobile crane that runs on rails, it split in half.
PAUL STAINTON: Right. So it was poor construction, was it?
PAUL GREENWELL: Design and construction. Yes.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. Doesn’t bode well, does it? Are we confident that it’s fixed and going to stay fixed?
PAUL GREENWELL: Hence the five months of investigation, to make sure that the problems of the old equipment were completely designed out in the new.
PAUL STAINTON: Since it’s been broken then, we’ve had to put a lot of our waste into landfill, haven’t we? Has that come as a cost to you as well?
PAUL GREENWELL: It’s come as a total cost to us, and not to the people of Cambridgeshire.
PAUL STAINTON: No. But we’ve not been doing what we should have been doing, and recycling our black bin waste, have we?
PAUL GREENWELL: It’s diversion of the black bin waste from landfill. The recycling element is the smaller element of it.
PAUL STAINTON: But we’ve not been diverting it. It’s been going in the ground, hasn’t it?
PAUL GREENWELL: Of course it has. Yes. That’s the fall-back position.
PAUL STAINTON: What have you learned from all of this, and all of the bad publicity and the money that it’s cost your company?
PAUL GREENWELL: Well basically the original contract was with the Donarbon business. So AmeyCespa, when they bought Donarbon, weren’t involved in the detailed design etcetera. So that’s what AmeyCespa brought to the table.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. So you picked up the pieces, effectively.
PAUL GREENWELL: Effectively, yes.
PAUL STAINTON: Is it a bigger and better machine now, going forward? Have you every confidence in it?
PAUL GREENWELL: We have. Full confidence in it. Full confidence that it will fulfil the obligations of the contract for the remaining 22, 23 years.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. And you’ll get your money back, will you, do you think?
PAUL GREENWELL: No. We won’t get everything back.
PAUL STAINTON: Ok. So you’ve just got to take that on the chin and put it down to experience.
PAUL GREENWELL: That’s the beauty of a PFI contract for the county. There is risk involved on both sides, but in situations like this we take all of the risk.
PAUL STAINTON: Well, we’re pleased it’s not cost us a penny. Nevertheless, we’re also pleased that it’s actually working again. Paul, thank you for that. Paul Greenwell, Managing Director of AmeyCespa, the company behind the machinery now. It took on the problems, and eventually sorted them out in the Terminator in Waterbeach.