"The Government have clearly sent the message to Shell, ‘you can do whatever you want’. Fortunately due to protest, the refinery remains unconnected to the gas field. If, as Shell planned, gas had been flowing by now, we would potentially all be dealing with a gas leak and explosion.”
[Shell to Sea] This is a segment from Shell's Corrib Gas Update for Autumn on the Tunnel Boring Machine which they plan to use to tunnel 5km under Sruwaddacon Bay. As a further insult to the local community and it's cultural heritage they have named the Tunnel Boring Machine, which they plan to use to destroy Sruwaddacon Estuary; "Fionnuala". After one of the Children of Lir who according to the legend spent 300 years in waters of Sruwaddacon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sruwaddacon_Bay
The tunnel boring machine (TBM) that will be used for the construction of the tunnel under Sruwaddacon Bay for the Corrib onshore pipeline has been built and is presently undergoing final testing in Germany.
The machine (pictured right) is 140m long and weighs almost 500 tonnes. It was built in Schwanau in Germany by Herrenknecht, who are one of the largest manufacturers of TBMs in the world.
Work on the construction of the TBM commenced in February of this year. Since then, more than 40 people have been working on the building of the largest piece of equipment that will be used on any onshore element of the Corrib project.
The TBM is comprised of 14 sections. The front part contains the 28-tonne cutter head which will drill under Sruwaddacon Bay next year. The cutter head consists of 21 14” cutter discs, 32 scrapers and six buckets and requires two 400kw motors to turn it.
When the final tests are completed, the TBM will go into storage in Germany, before being transported to Erris next summer to commence work.
The tunnel will have an internal diameter of 3.5m and as each metre of the shaft is excavated the tunnel will be lined with pre-cast interlocking concrete segments. The tunnel will be excavated in one direction, starting at the Aughoose launch
The team involved in overseeing the construction of the TBM pictured with it at the factory in Schwanau.
pit, and will run for a distance of approximately 4.9km to the Glengad landfall.
Paul Hughes, Tunnel Construction Lead, paid tribute to those involved. “Almost a year has been spent on the TBM, between design and construction, and it has involved a huge collaborative effort between Herrenknecht, SEPIL staff and a variety of other contractors and consultants.”
It is customary in mining and tunnelling to give TBMs a female name and, in the case of the Corrib TBM, Fionnuala has been chosen, in honour of the legend of the Children of Lir, which has a strong local resonance. Fionnuala was one of Lir’s children who, according to legend, spent 300 years with her three brothers in the form of swans in the waters around Inis Gluaire off Erris.