“It would be a question of the utmost public concern if an undercover officer were effectively permitted to operate without justification, authorisation or oversight in Ireland.”
SHELL E&P Ireland will appear before Dublin Metropolitan District Court on September 5 next over an intense flaring incident at the controversial Corrib refinery on December 31 last, The Mayo News can confirm. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has confirmed it issued a summons to Shell last week after a six-month investigation into what locals described as a ‘frightening’ event. They said it lasted 30 to 40 minutes, lit up the sky and was seen from as far away as Achill and Foxford. The fire from the giant chimney stack was accompanied by a ‘low, loud rumble like a supersonic boom’, according to local witnesses
Local resident, Mary Corduff, whose husband Willie was one of the Rossport Five jailed in 2005 for flouting a CAO (Compulsory Acquisition Order), told The Mayo News yesterday that she has witnessed well over 20 flaring incidents since last January, three of which were in the last fortnight.
“The EPA contacted me in the aftermath of an Irish Times article last week about its prosecution of Shell and asked me was I aware that they were taking statements from local people about the flaring. They advised me that if there was anyone I knew who witnessed the flaring and wished to make a statement that they should do so,” Mary Corduff said.
She confirmed the last flaring incidents she witnessed was on Tuesday last, July 5 and that it had continued for some 20 minutes.
“Shell being forced to pay a fine because of flaring won’t make the people of the area any safer,” she said.
Last January Shell stated that the New Year’s Eve flaring was ‘exceptional’ and that the company would ‘take all measures to minimise further occurrences’, which it said would be ‘intermittent in the coming days’ as first gas was brought ashore.
Responding to Mayo News questions yesterday, a spokeswoman said in a statement: “Shell E&P Ireland Limited can confirm that we have received legal summons from the Environmental Protection Agency alleging breaches of our Industrial Emissions Licence. We will not be providing comment whilst litigation is ongoing.”
The New Year’s Eve flaring incident occurred just two days after the final operating consent for the project was issued by the then Minister for Energy, Alex White.
The EPA’s Integrated Pollution Prevention License (IPPC) stipulated that flaring can only be used for safety reasons or for non-routine operational conditions as the practice contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
Penalties for breaches include a fine not exceeding €3,000 or imprisonment for any term not exceeding 12 months, or both fine and imprisonment, on summary conviction. On conviction on indictment, the fine is up to €15,000 or imprisonment for no more than ten years, or both fine and imprisonment.