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Western People: Shell to Sea pickets Council over water quality concerns

MEMBERS of the Shell to Sea campaign last week picketed the headquarters of Mayo County Council in Castlebar to highlight their concerns over water quality and environmental issues arising from site works at the company’s proposed Bellanaboy terminal, writes Christy Loftus.
The protestors claim that works carried out to date by the company pose a risk to the water quality in Carrowmore Lake which is the source of domestic supply to thousands of homes in the Erris area.
They are demanding that the local authority examine existing conditions in the area and are seeking assurances with regard to the water filtration system which Shell is constructing on the site.
The protestors claim that runoff from the site, from which vast quantities of peat have been removed, is a threat to the water quality and fish life in Carrowmore Lake.
They argue that Shell had committed to providing the filtration system in two to three weeks last October but still had not delivered on the promise.
Ms Mary Corduff, wife of Willie Corduff, one of the five Rossport men who recently spent 94 days in Cloverhill Prison because of his opposition to the upstream pipeline, said the main objective of the picket was to get a commitment from the council to inspect the ongoing works and to reassure the community about water quality,
One of the group, Mr. John Monaghan said contaminated water is still running off the site and has been since early October. He questioned the role of the Project Monitoring Committee; the Environ-mental Protection Agency; the Regional Fisheries Board; Mayo County Council and the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources.
“The local people are monitoring the monitors and they are doing nothing,” he said.
Another protestor, Terence Conway explained that the group had decided to picket the County Council offices to highlight their concerns. “It is the only way left open to us,” he declared.
• Last Sept the council wrote to Shell requiring them to address concerns about pollution of waterways in the vicinity of the site and threatened to take action under the Local Government Water Pollution Acts.
In late October Shell, in a press statement, confirmed that the delivery and installation of the of the filtration equipment (to address the run-off problem) had commenced and that the testing and commissioning should be completed in a matter of two to three weeks.
It is understood that the water treatment units will be up and running in the next few days.

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