UCD students provided with €30 gift voucher after toilets were contaminated with wastewater 3 months ago

UCD students provided with €30 gift voucher after toilets were contaminated with wastewater

Rent in the affected accommodation costs between €800-€1000 each month.

UCD students were offered a €30 One4All gift voucher as compensation for wastewater being channelled into their toilets.

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Speaking to JOE, UCDSU President Ruairí Power said that the SU was "happy that they've (UCD) recognised that they need to give something out, but €30 is nowhere near the requirement we see it as."

As reported in the University Observer, a mixture of fresh water and foul water which was ‘likely’ to contain urine and faecal matter had filled resident’s toilet bowls on in November 2021.

In an email sent to affected students, UCD Estate Services said that the foul water was due to a "builder who inadvertently connected a foul drain pipe from some toilets to the rainwater harvesting tank for the Studio Residences at the Village.

"As a result, the water used for flushing toilets in your studio on the 3rd and 4th November 2021 is likely to have contained trace amounts of foul water content," Estate Services wrote.

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"This should not have happened and we sincerely apologise for this."

UCD Estate services warned affected students that although chances of being sick were low, there were still possibilities for infection in the bathroom.

"The volume of foul water that entered the flushing system would have been very low and was substantially diluted by cleaned mains water.

"However, a range of organisms (bacteria, viruses and parasites) that can cause illness including gastric problems such as diarrhoea, nausea, and abdominal pain may be present in faecal material and urine and these could have entered the toilet water system.

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"While the water in the toilets is not ingested, there is a very small risk that water droplets from toilet flushes could have created aerosols or landed on adjoining surfaces.

"There is a very low risk that you may have been exposed to these organisms."

Estate Services recommended that all toothbrushes and toothbrush heads be disposed of, and each bathroom underwent rigorous disinfection, which required campus services to enter accommodations and leave bathrooms unusable for a period.

Power said that UCDSU has met with impacted residents since the incident.

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"It's very clear from speaking with them that they don't feel that the €30 One4All voucher that's proposed is anyway satisfactory to deal with the scale of the issue.

"This is a new block of apartments, they're extortionately expensive to stay in, UCD market it as a luxury product.

"While you would expect issues to arise with a new build, this is quite a serious issue.

Power said that some affected students felt as though a week or two's rent should be reimbursed to compensate for the conditions in the apartment for that time period.

The SU president also said that if meetings with management were not satisfactory, that students were willing to take further action proportionate to the response of management.

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JOE has contacted UCD and UCD Estate Services for comment on the matter.