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Shell to Sea kayakers brave waters to protest against Solitaire’s arrival

Mayo Advertiser 22 August 2008

Shell to Sea kayakers brave waters to protest against Solitaire’s arrival

Protesters arrested at Glengad beach


A Shell to Sea kayaker braved Donegal waters on Tuesday to hand a letter to the Solitaire’s captain asking him not to enter Broadhaven Bay or face opposition.

Gardaí have confirmed that eight Shell to Sea protesters were arrested yesterday (Thursday) at Glengad beach. Fifteen Shell to Sea activists entered the water at Glengad to stop pipeline dredging work and it is believed that eight of them were arrested. Dinghies, surfers and swimmers surrounded the machine and stopped work.

According to protesters three gardaí in a garda boat began making the arrests and taking the boats at 10.55am. They claimed the gardaí were assisted by Shell security men who “held a protester until he could be arrested”. Shell to Sea reported that work recommenced at 11.40am when the dredging machine picked up large amounts of debris from the sea bed and “dumped it within inches of the protesters”. Protesters have vowed to continue until the pipeline work stops. The action was part of a Shell to Sea Week of Action which targeted the Solitaire ship which has been commissioned to lay the offshore pipe at Broadhaven Bay.

SEPIL has acknowledged people’s right to protest but have urged everyone to take “sensible health and safety precautions” in the vicinity of the vessels and the site at Glengad.

Meanwhile the captain of the Solitaire ship has been told in no uncertain terms this week by Shell to Sea that they are opposed to the pipeline construction work.

On Tuesday afternoon a team of Shell to Sea kayakers braved the waters of Donegal Bay to let the captain of the Solitaire know their feelings through a letter which asked him not to enter the bay and to re-assess his involvement in the Corrib gas project.

The kayakers paddled over a kilometre out to sea to deliver the letter of protest which was received by the captain.

Representing the views of many from the communities affected by the Corrib gas project, the letter asked the captain to reconsider his, and the ship’s, participation in the development.

The letter clearly stated that if the captain chose to continue the ship’s involvement he would meet strong resistance as many people have pledged to take to the water to stop this pipeline construction work.

Shell to Sea have said actions will take place all this week until the ship is forced to abandon work.

The letter, addressed to Captain Van der Plicht, on behalf of the communities of Rossport, Glengad, Pollathomas, Aughoose, Glenamoy, Ballinaboy, Porturlin and the people of Erris, asked the ship’s personnel to reassess their involvement in the project.

“You are not welcome here — our whole community has been severely disrupted and there are very serious reservations about the safety considerations regarding the proposed pipeline especially in regard to the abysmal safety record of Shell here and at locations worldwide. We are also unhappy about the blatant disregard for our pristine environment — Broadhaven Bay and Sruwaddacon Bay are Special Areas of Conservation of international importance for marine life,” the letter stated.

In it Shell to Sea outlined their safety concerns which include: risks of bringing a high pressure raw gas pipeline through areas of shifting sands and unstable peat bog in an area with a history of landslides, risks of bringing this pipeline in close proximity to residential housing and public roads and footpaths, risks of pipe integrity due to corrosion after standing open to the elements for over six years and the pollution of the local water table from toxic waste.

“In light of our concerns we are obliged to stand firm against this project and do all in our power to prevent it in its present unacceptable form.

“We do not seek confrontation with you and your crew and we feel sure that you would not wish to go ahead with pipe-laying when there are such serious safety issues unresolved. There is also the question of the legality of laying this seaward pipeline before there has been any agreement on the landward route,” the letter continued.

Captain Van der Plicht was told that should he decide to go ahead with laying the pipeline before the issues are resolved, Shell to Sea’s experienced marine team will attempt to prevent him in order to protect their livelihoods, families, communities and environment. He was offered mobile telephone numbers and an email address if he wished to contact members of Shell to Sea to discuss the situation further.

http://www.mayoadvertiser.com/index.php?aid=7034 

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