Irish Environmentalists Protest Shell’s Corrib Gas Pipeline
B. McPherson - Green Watch
Around the world, the ordinary people are starting to realize the huge potential for environmental damage that our addiction to fossil fuels has created. A group in Ireland under the banner of Shell to Sea
is using peaceful civil disobedience to protest the Royal Dutch Shell natural gas pipeline route.
They have three stated aims in this regard: to ensure the safety of the people and environment, to renegotiate the terms of royalties for the offshore gas deposits, and to address what they claim are human rights abuses.
The protesters have been interfering in the movement of materials used to build the pipeline. Two of the latest actions involved occupying a quarry that was supplying stone for the project and a woman locked herself to a tree cutting piece of machinery in an attempt to prevent cutting through a local forest.
“Protests last Thursday led to a stand-off at a local quarry where the owner ultimately used a high-powered water hose in an attempt to remove protestors from his machinery.
Earlier in the week, on Tuesday last, a garda used an angle-grinder to remove a woman who was locked by her neck to the arm of a tree-cutting machine.” Shell to Sea
Because the Corrib gas pipeline would snake through residential areas to the refinery, concern was expressed about the conflagration that would result from a high pressure rupture of the pipes. It was estimated at local hearings that dwellings within 700 feet of the line would burst into flames, allowing the inhabitants about 30 seconds to flee. While the consultants speaking for the oil consortium downplayed the danger, those in opposition to the route had a different take on the situation.
“Last week Desmond Branigan, of DB Marine Research and Associates, told the hearing that Lloyd’s Marine Intelligence Unit had recorded 1,200 deaths in the past decade (to 2008) as a result of pipeline fractures in 58 countries.” Shell to Sea
Oil and gas pipelines move millions of barrels of oil around the world. More are being proposed as you read this. While the pipeline builders seek to maintain high safety standards, accidents do happen. Sometimes spills occur when maintenance allows corrosion to eat its way through the pipe, other spills occur when transferring oil to ships or storage facilities. Human error is always a factor. The result of spills, leaks and flare offs is damage to the environment and often to people. Ordinary people are starting to say, “No!” to unbridled building of petroleum pipelines through sensitive environments.
A Few Proposed and Recently Built Petroleum Pipelines
·Corrib pipeline Ireland, County Mayo
·Keystone pipeline, Canada to US Gulf coast
·Northern Gateway pipeline, Alberta Canada to BC Canada coast
·Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, Alberta Canada to BC Canada coast
·Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline, to bypass the Strait of Hormuz
·Maze of proposed pipelines to move Russian oil to Europe, map link
Madam, - Terry Nolan of Shell's call for "real dialogue" on the Erris pipeline/refinery stand-off does not convince. He says, for example, that "the project has been through a rigorous planning and consents process". This is disingenuous: did he not notice Lorna Siggins's report in your edition of October 19th which referred to omissions from the original environmental impact statement regarding cold venting (the release of contaminated gas into the atmosphere), and explained how the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Marine and Natural Resources refused to allow North Mayo residents to address it on this issue?
“We’re justified in resorting to civil disobedience when our cause is valid, we’re motivated by that cause to disobey, we’ve made reasonable efforts to use legal channels first, and we’re sensitive to the likely impact on other people. Civil disobedience is not just justified, but praiseworthy, when it helps to remedy grave injustices in our society.”
Kimberley Brownlee, associate professor in legal and moral philosophy at the Warwick University Law School