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Corrib gas opponents condemn fire near Shell site

The Irish Times
February 25, 2008
Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent

OPPONENTS OF the Corrib gas onshore pipeline in north Mayo have condemned "without reservation" the "apparent criminal damage to materials" associated with the project.
Shell E&P Ireland estimates that "several thousand euros" worth of materials were lost in a fire which broke out at a storage compound about 1.5km from the refinery site late on Friday night.
Two units from Belmullet and one from Crossmolina fire brigades fought the blaze which occurred on Coillte property at Aughoose. About 100 timber mats, used by the main contractor on the project, Roadbridge, were destroyed.
Roadbridge staff assisted the fire brigade. The blaze was eventually extinguished at 4am on Saturday, according to Shell E&P Ireland. No one was injured, the company confirmed, but its initial investigations led it to believe that "this was not accidental".
The matting was used to provide temporary roadways when transporting materials. Some synthetic ducting piping was also burned, along with surrounding forestry.
Gardaí carried out a forensic investigation of the area at the weekend and Belmullet Garda station is continuing its inquiries.
The Mayo-based Shell To Sea campaign said: "We condemn without reservation the apparent criminal damage to materials at the former site of the deconstructed pipeline, as well as the ongoing breaches of ministerial consents at the Glengad special area of conservation (SAC), of which the Department of the Environment has been informed."
Last week Shell consultants RPS began restoring a special area of conservation to its original condition after unauthorised drilling was carried out there last year.
However, Mayo Shell to Sea has written to Minister for the Environment John Gormley asking why the restoration work is not being supervised by the Department of the Environment or the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Mr Gormley issued the order to restore the SAC and a number of conditions attached to this had been drawn up.
The Pro Gas Mayo group said it condemned "the wanton destruction" under "cover of darkness" of "property belonging to contractors who work for Shell and who give employment".
It referred to forest fires which "started last year not far from the perimeter fence of the Bellanaboy compound" and "the wanton destruction of property belonging to quarry owners some months ago who also work for Shell".
The Pro Gas Mayo chairman Pádraig Cosgrove and secretary Brendan Cafferty said that the action was "damaging to the reputation of Mayo and Erris" and "damaging to future job prospects in the region at a time of difficult economic circumstances".
© 2008 The Irish Times

Posted Date: 
23 February 2008 - 2:58pm