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Irish Independent: Objectors vow to fight go-ahead for disputed refinery

Published: Jan 27, 2007

THE decision to grant a licence to oil giant Shell for the controversial Corrib Gas refinery will be fought ‘to the bitter end’ by local objectors.

While yesterday’s preliminary decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to give the green light to the 200m facility has been welcomed by Shell and its partners in the project – Statoil and Marathon Oil – a final decision has been delayed in the event of an appeal.

Objectors now have 28 days to lodge an application for an oral hearing into the intention to grant the licence for the terminal at Bellanaboy in north Mayo.

Disgusted

Yesterday, Shell to Sea spokesman PJ Moran left no doubt that the EPA decision would be resisted vigorously by the opponents of the project.

“We will take this to wherever we have to – to prove to the EPA that this is wrong.

“We are disgusted with it,” said Mr Moran.

“We have to fight it. We have no choice but to fight it and we will fight it to the bitter end whatever it takes – if it takes the courts, if it takes protesting, if it takes going to our TDs, to our government and whoever is in power after the next election, we are going to keep at them until they see our point of view.”

Despite the continuing objections to the refinery, yesterday’s announcement by the EPA represents a significant advance for the controversial project. Almost 10 million cubic metres of gas are to be processed from the Bellanaboy refinery, but Shell will have to comply with more than 80 EPA conditions.

The company had applied to the environmental watchdog for the integrated pollution prevention and control licence in December 2004 and had to supply extra information last year relating to the risk of environmental pollution.

Shell to Sea insisted the firm was withholding vital information in this area, but the EPA now appears satisfied the terminal will not pose a threat to human safety.

“Emissions from the refinery when operated in accordance with the conditions of the proposed licence will not adversely affect human health or the environment,” the EPA said.

The conditions imposed by the EPA mostly include “strict controls” on emissions and a “high standard” of treatment of waste water to be discharged from the terminal through an offshore pipeline.

The discharge is to be outside the Broadhaven Bay Special Area of Conservation.

Shell and its partners in the Corrib Gas refinery said they were reviewing the conditions laid down by the EPA and noted the agency’s conclusion that neither human health nor the environment would be adversely affected by the operation of the facility.

Brian McDonald

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