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Fire service battles to quell blaze near gas terminal site
By: Daniel HickeyFIREFIGHTERS were still wrestling with a fire near the proposed Corrib gas refinery in north Mayo on Monday afternoon.
They said dry conditions are likely to have caused the blaze, which broke out on Sunday evening around 3km from the proposed refinery at Bellanaboy.
The fire service were contacted at 5pm on Sunday evening. Two units from Belmullet arrived at the scene and the blaze was under control by 11pm. One unit remained at the scene in the event of “hot spots” reigniting.
At 10am on Monday morning, areas of the forest re-ignited and four units of Mayo fire service, two from Belmullet and one each from Crossmolina and Ballina, attempted to get it under control.
Three units were scaling down operations at the time of going to press.
Chief Fire Officer Seamus Murphy said there was “no danger” that the fire would spread to the site of the proposed gas refinery.
A spokesman for the Shell to Sea campaign said the blaze was a cause of serious concern as those opposing the terminal had always claimed it was a mistake to locate it in an area surrounded by forestry.
Shell E&P Ireland rejected this and said that they are “confident that the possibility of fire has been taken into consideration and that, in the event of a fire, the refinery can shut down in a safe and controlled manner.”
Concern about forest fires in proximity to the proposed refinery were raised by objectors at the recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oral hearing into the issuing of an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) licence for the proposed refinery.
The EPA has deferred its decision on awarding the licence.
An EPA spokeswoman confirmed that a decision date of September 28th has been given to the applicant, Shell E&P Ireland, and to the objectors.
Extra time is allowed for under the legislation, but the board may come to a decision before this date - or may seek a further extension, the spokeswoman said.
The integrated pollution prevention control (IPPC) licence is one of the key consents in a series handled by different State agencies for the €900 million project. The licence covers emissions from the terminal to the atmosphere and the marine environment, and preliminary approval has already been given by the EPA.
To date, the EPA has not over-turned an interim decision of this nature in other cases.

Posted Date: 
19 June 2007 - 7:33pm