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Expertise of Corrib Pipeline consultants in question

Irish Times article followed by letter on the same subject…

THE ARTICLE: Irish Times: Shell hires advisers for revised gas route

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent, Irish Times
Published: Jan 23, 2007

Shell E&P Ireland has hired consultants RPS to assist it in finding a modified route for the controversial Corrib gas onshore pipeline.

The company’s brief includes “consultation around the criteria for finding a modified route, surveying and mapping, engineering design, environmental assessment, procurement support and construction supervision”, Shell said yesterday in a statement.

Public meetings are promised as part of the lengthy procedure which the company has been pursuing since a modified route was proposed by Government mediator Peter Cassells six months ago.

Under the company’s plan, construction of its terminal at Bellanaboy may be well under way before a proposal for modification is submitted to Government.

Daily protests by residents as part of the Shell to Sea campaign are still continuing at the terminal site, and several demonstrators were injured last Friday in altercations with gardaI.

More than 100 gardaI are still deployed in Belmullet as part of security for Shell staff.

Shell has applied for a foreshore licence to carry out surveys on one alternative pipeline route via Sruwaddaccon Bay and is currently awaiting a decision from the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

RPS is described as a company which is “highly experienced in gas pipeline routing and environmental assessment”, having worked for Bord Gais on the 335km gas pipeline from Dublin to Galway-Limerick in 2002.

Shell also said yesterday that more than 200 people, “including a number of school groups”, attended its open days last week in Castlebar and Ballina, Co Mayo.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Expertise of Corrib Pipeline consultants in question

Madam,

People need to understand the difference between ‘production’ pipeline and ‘distribution’ pipeline – a massive difference in operating pressure.  By agreeing to a refinery 9km inland at Bellanaboy, the government is requiring Shell to construct an overland high-pressure ‘production’ pipeline.

Lorna Siggins states that RPS consultants, the company which Shell are hiring to assist in determining a new route for this pipeline, is described as a company which is “highly experienced in gas pipeline routing and environmental assessment”, having worked for Bord Gáis on the 335km gas pipeline from Dublin to Galway-Limerick in 2002.  There is a vast difference between a high-pressure raw gas ‘production’ pipeline and the domestic-use pressure of the Dublin to Galway-Limerick ‘distribution’ pipeline.  To suggest that a company experienced in low-pressure distribution pipelines has the necessary expertise for planning a route for a high-pressure production pipeline is utterly ridiculous – like asking someone who builds garden sheds to be the architect for a new City Hall.  No wonder the people of Erris have no faith in Shell’s feeble pretentions to take account of the community’s concerns.

The whole issue revolves around health and safety for the Erris community.  A high-pressure gas pipeline at Carlsbad, New Mexico, operating at 46.6 Bar, ruptured due to internal corrosion on 19th August 2000.  The blast and fire-ball killed a family of 12 who were camping more than 200 metres away. This pipeline was operating at less than one third of the proposed pressure that the Corrib pipeline could be operating at.   Clearly the level of expertise of consultants is extremely important.  The Carlsbad incident should be enough to convince any sane person that such a pipeline needs to be at least half a kilometre from any residence or public road.

Yours, etc,

Bob Wilson,

Flagmount, Co. Clare.

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