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The Mayo News: An Taisce concern

The Mayo News

(SITE An aerial photograph of the gas terminal at Bellanaboy. Approximately 450,000 tonnes of peat have been removed from the site since 2005. Pic Jan Pesch

By Olof Gill: Tuesday, 03 July 2007 

The Irish environmental organisation, An Taisce, has lodged an objection with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), informing them of their concerns over the proposed location of the Corrib gas terminal at Bellanaboy.

Following a recent hearing, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently considering Shell E&P Ireland’s application for an integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) licence for the terminal project.

Speaking to The Mayo News, An Taisce’s Frank Corcoran explained that there were, in the view of the organisation, several dangers posed by the proposed siting of the terminal. Firstly, An Taisce is adamant that the proposed route of the pipeline is too close to homes in the north Mayo area. “Pipes with such high pressure should be further from residences,” he explained.

Secondly, the location puts in danger the local riverwater catchment, and the fishing industry, which is centred around these waterways. Most importantly, however, is the risk of contaminating the local water catchment – the primary water supply of 10,000 people in the area.

Mr Corcoran, a lecturer in environmental law at the Dublin Institute of Technology and a former chairman of An Taisce, was invited to attend a parish meeting in the area last Friday, where approximately 140 local residents were gathered. While Mr Corcoran was quick to emphasise that An Taisce do not agree with Shell to Sea’s tactics, he told The Mayo News that Shell ‘picked a strange site’, and he hoped the EPA would recognise this fact. “It has to be done right,” he said. “The present site presents too great a risk.”

An Taisce is concerned that Ireland could face enormous fines if it permits terminal to be built in a major drinking water catchment area. “Ireland has already been in breach of EU drinking water regulations, and if we break the again we would face massive fines for persistent breach,” he said.

Should the EPA fail to consider these risks in its autumn evaluation, An Taisce is prepared to lodge a legal complaint to the European Commission. “I think local people appreciate that An Taisce has responded to these applications,” he said, concluding that “it’s not difficult to do this right.”

Meanwhile, Shell Ireland described last Friday’s completion of the Bellanaboy peat haulage operation as ‘a significant milestone on the Corrib natural gas project’.  This operation – a key requirement in the October 2005 granting of planning permission for the Corrib onshore gas terminal – involved the removal of circa 450,000 tonnes of peat from the site of the onshore terminal at Bellanaboy to a cut-over Bord na Móna site 11km away at Srahmore.

The operation was completed, according to Shell, ‘without any safety incidents, ahead of schedule and with minimal disruption to local residents’. One-hundred-thousand tonnes of peat were moved in 2005, with the remaining 350,000 tonnes removed this year.  The operation began in April and involved some 20,000 round trips with trucks driving nearly 500,000km.
 
http://www.mayonews.ie/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1864&Itemid=38

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