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Irish Independent: Public hearing opens on Shell gas refinery proposals

Published: Apr 17, 2007

Environment agency will hear submissions before licence ruling

A PUBLIC hearing on the granting of an operating licence for the 200m Corrib Gas refinery opened in Belmullet, Co Mayo got underway yesterday.

The hearing, organised by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will decide whether the refinery should be granted a pollution control licence.

Submissions will be taken over the next two weeks, from parties including An Taisce, the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association and members of the Shell to Sea campaign group who are objecting to the terminal on health and safety grounds. The EPA announced in January that it intended to licence the refinery, subject to 85 conditions. The EPA said it believed the terminal would not adversely affect human health or the environment.

The main concern of the Erris Inshore Fishermens Association is the negative impact on the marine environment of the outfall pipe from the refinery, which will release treated chemical and metallic contaminants.

Shell to Sea’s John Monaghan told the chairman of the hearing that the large garda presence at the Broadhaven Bay hotel was intimidating and should be reduced in the interest of full public participation.

The Environmental Protection Agency was criticised for not ensuring that officials from a number of State authorities attended the hearing.

Imelda Moran, one of the 13 appellants challenging the licence for the Corrib refinery, said that representatives from Mayo Co Council, the HSA, and An Bord Pleanala should have been mandated to attend.

Processes

Corrib gas environmental advisor Agnes McLaverty, who delivered Shell’s initial submission, argued that natural gas operations in general did not pose large risks to the environment or to the public.

The processes and equipment proposed for the Bellanaboy Bridge terminal represented technologies that Shell uses in gas plants in many parts of the world, she said.

One person was arrested for public order offences during a demonstration at the site yesterday.

Aine Ryan

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