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An Taisce wants review of pipeline location

An Taisce has called on Minister for Marine Noel Dempsey to conduct a review of the proposed location for Shell's onshore gas terminal in north Mayo in the light of a recent Government consultancy study of the controversial onshore pipeline. Leo Corcoran, former senior engineer with Bord Gáis Éireann (BGE) and consultant to An Taisce, says the safety review of the onshore pipeline by the Government-appointed consultants, Advantica, is excellent but within limited terms of reference. He believes some of the consultants' own findings in their review demand that the safety review's scope be extended to identify the ''optimum'' location for the terminal. An Taisce's submission is one of 17 observations on the draft safety review of the pipeline published earlier this month by Advantica consultants. One of the review's key recommendations was that the pressure in the pipeline should be limited to 144 bar, and it also said that Shell had failed to take account of societal risk to the local population in its risk assessment. The Minister's Corrib technical advisory group (TAG) had given a two-week period for submissions, and a final report will be prepared early in the new year which will form the basis for further consents for the €900 million project by the Minister. Separate mediation talks are currently being conducted by ministerial appointee and former Ictu secretary general Peter Cassells, between Shell and the local community. Significantly, the recent analysis of the pipeline's safety by US expert Richard Kuprewicz for the Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI) has been referred by the Minister to the consultants. Other submissions on the draft were published yesterday on the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources website. In a comment on the Advantica draft safety review, Mr Kuprewicz has said that it further questions the use of a quantified risk assessment as a basis for approving the pipeline. He believes the minimum safe distance for the pipeline, which he describes as unique, is 200m to 400m from residential homes and individuals. Currently, it runs as close as 70m to residences. Mr Kuprewicz said there were no surprises in the Advantica review, and observed that some of its recommendations were further evidence of a ''Space Shuttle syndrome'' by which authorities tried to rush projects through without adequately dealing with safety risks. The submission by Leo Corcoran for An Taisce says the design of the upstream pipeline was compromised to facilitate the construction of the terminal at Bellanaboy. However, this location was selected in advance of the 2002 Gas Act under which a more appropriate coastal site could have been selected and acquired. Mr Corcoran, who was chief engineer on the Cork-Dublin gas pipeline for BGE, argues that, given Advantica's emphasis on the importance of minimising the length of pipeline between the wells and the terminal, it should be asked by the Minister to identify or confirm the optimum location.

Posted Date: 
23 December 2005 - 3:57pm