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Threat to Corrib’s water catchment

IN a strong warning shot across the bows, An Taisce has stressed the legal implications if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants an operating license for the Corrib gas refinery, which is in the drinking water catchment for 11,000 people. It has also accused former Marine Minister Frank Fahey of signing an inherently flawed consent for the refinery which the national trust claims is ‘legally unenforceable’. Participation Manager of An Taisce, Mr Frank Corcoran, (pictured) told a large public meeting in Belmullet last Thursday night that if the EPA ‘does not rigourously enforce’ various Environmental Directives, the national trust will institute a legal complaint to the EU.“We will also seek interim measures to prevent any threats to the integrity of the drinking water from Carrowmore lake,” said Mr Corcoran. “A drinking water catchment should never be put at risk. And there are good reasons why Codes of Practise are used in the selection of sites. We all know things can go wrong.”In response to a Shell accusation on local radio that Mr Corcoran, and his brother, Environmental Consultant, Leo Corcoran, were ‘scare-mongering’, he said that was precisely the accusation levelled at him when he said four years ago that cryptosporidium had arrived in Ireland. “We’re telling people what the facts are, and not scare-mongering. Let him [John Egan] answer those issues regarding breaches of Codes of Practise,” continued Frank Corcoran. Shell’s spokesman, John Egan, reiterated his accusation to The Mayo News adding that not only were the claims ‘scare-mongering’ but they were also ‘irresponsible’.“We are not in breach of any relevant Codes of Practise and that was confirmed by An Taisce’s expert, Leo Corcoran at the EPA oral hearing last May. “The EPA is the competent authority with regard to all emissions, including water run-off from the site,” he said.He claimed that, based on Shell surveys, ‘the aluminum levels coming from the Bellanaboy river are far less than the levels coming from other rivers feeding Carrowmore lake’. Moreover, Mr Egan also said that only two per cent of the 400-acre refinery site was within the water catchment area. However, according to data compiled by Shell to Sea, based on Shell’s own monitoring figures, aluminum levels continue to exceed the target level imposed by Mayo County Council. Figures show that on seven days during July aluminum levels exceeded the target level of 200.A level of 200 micrograms of aluminum per one litre of water, which is the recommended World Health Organisation (WHO) level for drinking water, is the agreed target level for the run-off water from the Bellanaboy site. Mayo County Council’s Director of Services, Mr Peter Hynes told The Mayo News recently that: “There is absolutely no connection between aluminum levels in Carrowmore lake and the drinking waters in Erris. It goes through a rigorous treatment process at our plant before reaching the public.”At last week’s meeting Ms Rose Conway Walsh of Iorrais le Chéile commented on ‘the lack of meaningful consultation with the community, particularly by the County Council’. She also said there were inconsistencies in planning applications. Mr Leo Corcocran told the gathering that when he had been first asked to examine the Corrib project, he had expected that since Shell was such a big company, the project would have been devised properly. “I assumed it was a bunch of NIMBYs in north Mayo [complaining]. To my horror, I discovered there was no Code of Practise [applied]. It is extraordinary that neither the refinery or the pipeline complies with such a code,” said Mr Corcoran.

Posted Date: 
5 September 2007 - 6:40pm