Half of Shell’s route for its Corrib pipeline is ruled unacceptable on safety grounds
By LORNA SIGGINS
North Mayo residents say ruling vindicates their stance
NORTH Mayo residents have said that An Bord Pleanála’s ruling on the Corrib gas onshore pipeline is a “vindication” of their stance on health and safety grounds.
Pobal Chill Chomáin spokesman John Monaghan and resident Mary Corduff also said that Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan and his department had “serious questions to answer” in relation to endorsement of the safety of the proposed modified pipeline route at the oral hearing .
A spokeswoman for Mr Ryan said his first priority “has and always will be the safety of the affected community”.
Ms Corduff said this was the outcome of “project splitting”. Her community had “suffered intimidation over years” for their opposition, she said.
“In 2003, Bord Pleanála inspector Kevin Moore described the Bellanaboy site for the refinery as ‘the wrong site’ from a strategic planning perspective,” she said. “Mr Moore should have been listened to. Shell should go back to the drawing board now.”
Former Bord Gáis engineering manager Leo Corcoran, who was one of the appellants at the recent oral hearing, said the location of the landfall valve installation at Glengad was “ socially unsustainable” and did not comply with internationally acceptable codes of practice.
“The current application is an attempt to retrofit a failed design to meet the required codes of practice,” Mr Corcoran said.
Shell to Sea spokeswoman Maura Harrington said: “What An Bord Pleanála have really shown today is that the Corrib gas pipeline is not safe to be routed through our community, or indeed any residential area.
“Shell have consistently shown their inability and unwillingness to make this project safe – what it needs is a total overhaul, with real consideration given to the genuine problems with the project raised by campaigners.”
Ms Harrington took issue with the board’s provisional approval if alterations, including a new route, were applied for, saying “Ireland’s real strategic interest would be in regaining control of our natural resources”.
Justice and peace group Action from Ireland (Afri) welcomed the acknowledgment of “legitimate safety concerns of local people”.
“Shell built a refinery in the wrong place and laid an offshore pipeline and they can’t connect one to the other – this was always a crazy approach to planning,” Afri spokesman Andy Storey said.
“For years, local people objecting to this project have been called ignorant and have been the subject of harassment and intimidation, but their position has now been vindicated,” Mr Storey added.
“It is not too late to review this entire project and to ensure that the gas, if it is to be extracted at all, be refined offshore or at a location acceptable to the local community, and that the deal with Shell be renegotiated to ensure the Irish people get a fairer share of the proceeds,” he said.
By LORNA SIGGINS
Proposed route for Corrib pipeline unsafe, Shell told
AN BORD Pleanála has found that up to half of Shell’s proposed route for its controversial Corrib gas onshore pipeline in Co Mayo is “unacceptable” on safety grounds.
In a ruling yesterday, the planning board said the proposed high-pressure pipeline would be routed too close to housing in Rossport and between Glengad and Aughoose, and suggested that another route be explored.
The houses were “within the hazard range of the pipeline should a failure occur”, the board said in a letter to Shell EP Ireland.
The planning board also noted that Ireland had not adopted a risk-based framework for decision-making on major hazard pipelines and related infrastructure.
In its letter to Shell, the board said the firm’s application did “not present a complete, transparent and adequate demonstration” that the pipeline “does not pose an unacceptable risk to the public”.
It also said the impact of construction on a designated rural area in Rossport would “seriously injure residential amenities”, and the development potential of lands there. It noted that part of the pipeline route onshore was omitted from the application.
The 15 alterations include modifying the route again; providing new design and risk assessment information; addressing problems with the landfall valve installation at Glengad; providing details of hazard distances; and building “burn distances” and “escape distances”. The developers are also asked to provide an assessment of the societal risk for Glengad. Shell EP Ireland and its partners have until February 5th, 2010, to respond.
The revised onshore route application to avoid housing at Rossport was drawn up by RPS on the recommendation of Government mediator Peter Cassells in 2006.
The Strategic Infrastructure Application lodged in February of this year resulted in a 19-day oral hearing in Belmullet, chaired by inspector Martin Nolan. At the hearing, Shell consultants conceded in questioning by British pipeline consultant Nigel Wright that safe shelter in the event of a rupture and explosion had not been identified for residents close by.
Corrib refinery: developments since 2002
The offshore pipeline was laid during the summer and the refinery construction is nearing completion.
The developers still require planning permission for the onshore pipeline and may now require revised foreshore licences for a second modified route – as advised by An Bord Pleanála.
The Corrib gas project plan of development was approved by former minister for the marine Frank Fahey in 2002, along with compulsory acquisition orders to private land for the pipeline.