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Galway engineer calls for audit of Corrib gas project

April 26 04, from Irish Times
A Galway-based engineer has called on the Health and Safety Authority to commission an independent safety audit of all aspects of Shell's €800 million Corrib gas terminal project.
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Mr Brian Coyle of Coyle Kennedy structural and civil engineers says that Shell E&P <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = 'urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags' />Ireland has not adequately responded to recent queries by Mayo County Council about safety and environmental aspects of the project.

However, the Health and Safety Authority has confirmed that its role in the project is limited, and does not extend to the design and routing of the onshore pipeline from the Corrib gas field to the proposed terminal at Bellanaboy.

The pipeline will make its landfall at the foot of Dooncarton Hill, where a series of landslides occurred last October, and will run within 60 metres of several houses.

A decision on the company's latest planning application for the terminal in north Mayo is expected within the next fortnight, following the local authority's request for additional information on 28 aspects of the new environmental impact statement.

A Health and Safety Authority submission was lodged shortly after Easter, but will not be made available to the public until after the council announces its decision.

This submission is confined to the authority's remit in giving advice on major hazard aspects of land use planning, under SI 476 of the European Communities (Control of Major Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances) Regulations 2000.

Mr Coyle, who is from the Erris area, has already lodged an objection to this latest planning application, principally on health and safety grounds. He says that the high pressure pipeline linking the offshore gas field to the onshore terminal at Bellanaboy will be in breach of the Seveso II international directive, as it will run under Dooncarton Hill where landslides occurred last September, and close to private houses.

In a new submission, Mr Coyle reiterates his concerns about the stability and safety of the pipeline route.

Mayo County Council has asked the company to give written confirmation from the relevant regulatory authority that the design of the proposed gas pipelines from the terminal compound to the site boundary is structurally stable in peat soil. Mr Coyle maintains that the company does not address this in its response, The speed of flow of gas through the pipeline will be 2,500 km per hour, he says.

'We are all aware of how difficult it is to restrain and support a fire-fighting hose,' he says. The blanket bog will not 'restrain' this high pressure pipeline. The council also queries the 'phosphate hot spots' emanating from the peat, and Mr Coyle maintains that the company will not be able to deal with this contaminant when transferring the peat as part of its plan.

Mr Coyle says Bord na Mona does not have the expertise to handle transfer of 450,000 cubic metres of acidic blanket bog as part of the new plan, and predicts that this will result in the discharge of 400 million litres of acidic water into north and south Carrowmore lake - the only drinking water supply for the region.

The company has admitted in its response that the transfer of peat from Bellanaboy to the Bord na Mona site at Srahmore will be weather dependent, and says that it will cover the peat with waterproof sheeting when it rains.

Commenting on Mr Coyle's new submission, a spokeswoman for Shell E&P Ireland told The Irish Times that the proposed development of the Bellanaboy bridge gas terminal and the related pipelines was subject to a thorough regulatory regime, which included 'the input of many competent Irish authorities who are recognised as the relevant experts in their areas.'

She said the company did not believe it was appropriate now to discuss the detail of these submissions, but did not agree with the views expressed by Mr Coyle.

'The company believes its proposals have been developed in full compliance with all relevant legislation and best international industry practice,' she said.

Posted Date: 
9 March 2005 - 9:57pm