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Irish Times: Minister accused of excluding risk from safety review

Irish Times: Minister accused of excluding risk from safety review

“The five north Mayo men who are still in prison over their opposition to the Shell Corrib gas pipeline have accused Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey of “deliberately excluding” the risk of rupture and explosion from his new safety review.”

Friday 15 July 2005

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

Jul 15, 2005

The five north Mayo men who are still in prison over their opposition to the Shell Corrib gas pipeline have accused Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey of “deliberately excluding” the risk of rupture and explosion from his new safety review.

The impact of such risk on the safety of residents in the area represented “a core issue”, the five men have said in a statement released from Cloverhill Prison in Dublin through Mayo TD Dr Jerry Cowley (Ind). Any review which did not include it was “not acceptable”, they said.

The statement by Micheal O SeighIn, Brendan Philbin, Vincent and Philip McGrath and Willie Corduff, of Rossport, Co Mayo, was drawn up in response to the new safety review.

“Pipelines rupture. No pipeline engineer intends this to happen but it does with sickening frequency,” the men said in a statement read out after yesterday’s court hearing. “The outlandish pipeline here proposed to be forced in close proximity past our houses is the stuff of nightmares. What they do to us, they will do to you. The solution that we have advocated – that is, a shallow offshore processing platform – is the only positive one,” they said.

However, the Minister has said that measures “to make sure that things like ruptures and breaks don’t occur” would form part of the safety review.

A spokesman for the Minister said the review would be “as comprehensive as possible” and would include “scenario modelling” in the case of pipeline rupture.

The spokesman also said the tendering process would be “open to any company with the requisite expertise”, and details of this and the closing date of July 29th were on the Government’s e-tenders website.

The 19-point statement issued by the five men records their account of contact made with them by telephone by the Minister’s intermediary, Irish Farmers’ Association vice-president Raymond O’Malley, from July 3rd until last Sunday.

The men state that Mr O’Malley had proposed that the five could nominate experts for the review, but failed to mention in further phone calls that the men might be afforded any input.

Mr O’Malley had instead proposed a list of consultants recommended by the Petroleum Affairs Division (Pad) within the Minister’s department. The men said that the Minister’s advisers in the Pad were “totally compromised by the history of their involvement with Shell as advocates for Shell”. A department spokesman “refuted absolutely” this claim.

The Minister’s statement yesterday that it was not his “place” to direct that Shell build an offshore terminal for the €900 million gas project has been criticised as “pathetic” by Dr Cowley.

The company had at this stage already engaged in extensive construction works on the pipeline, including breaking into rock faces, Dr Cowley said, and this had been presented to court. Consents were only in place for preparatory work, not construction, he added.

( Posted here by John Donovan of http://royaldutchshellplc.com/ )

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