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Irish Independent: Shell finally gets the green light for troubled refinery

By Treacy Hogan Environment Correspondent
Wednesday November 14 2007

THE Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday assured objectors to the controversial Corrib gas plant that the project will not affect human health or the environment.

The assurance came as the agency gave the green light to Shell E&P Ireland to process 9.9 million cubic metres of natural gas per day at the country’s first on-shore gas refinery.

It has been claimed that gas supplied by the Corrib field, 65km off Co Mayo, will provide 60pc of the country’s gas requirements for the next 20 years.

The gas will be carried to the inshore refinery via a high pressure pipeline. Discussions on re-routing part of that pipeline, which will pass through Rossport, Co Mayo, are still continuing.

Construction of the plant in Bellanaboy, Co Mayo, has been dogged by delays, protests, jailings and claims about a potential pipeline explosion.

In January, the EPA announced its preliminary decision to grant a licence to the facility, and, following an oral hearing in April, it has re-affirmed that position.

The EPA said its Office of Environmental Enforcement would monitor and enforce some 90 licensing conditions through environmental audits, unannounced site visits and systematic checks.

The EPA will provide public access to all monitoring results and reports.

The EPA said its decision followed “an exhaustive examination”, including an oral hearing which sat for 12 days in April and May. It was satisfied that emissions from the refinery would not affect human health or the environment.

Venting

The EPA board accepted the oral hearing chairman’s recommendation that cold venting, a cause of major local concern, was the best environmental option due to the small amount of gas released.

The board also accepted the recommendations to strengthen controls relating to the risk of pollution to Carramore Lake, to increase the monitoring of marine waters around the discharge point, and to enhance noise monitoring at nearby noise-sensitive locations.

Last week, some 300 protesters staged a sit-down demonstration at the plant and tried to stop trucks entering the compound. John Monaghan, of Shell to Sea, said the movement was disappointed by the decision, but not surprised.

“We now have to look at the EPA’s determination and its recommendations in detail, but it will be open to judicial review, because there are quite a lot of unknowns to the refinery, never mind the project as a whole.

“What they are effectively licensing is not just the Bellanaboy refinery . . . but a series of refineries being talked about already in the industry.”

– Treacy Hogan Environment Correspondent

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/shell-finally-gets-the-green-light-for-troubled-refinery-1218775.html

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