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Minister contacts Eirgrid over route of proposed pipeline

By: 
STEPHEN MANGAN

MINISTER FOR Communications Eamon Ryan has contacted the national electricity company Eirgrid over the possibility of changing the route of a €600 million pipeline to avoid the town of Rush in north Co Dublin.

Work on the interconnector pipeline is due to begin in the town in the coming weeks, despite the protests of Rush Community Council which opposes the development because of health and safety concerns.

In a meeting last Wednesday, Mr Ryan assured the council that he would communicate their concerns to the State company before work starts in the town.

A statement from the department confirmed that Mr Ryan raised the matter with Eirgrid last Friday, and said the company had pledged to address any concerns directly with the council.

Last week’s meeting was also attended by Trevor Sargent TD who said Eirgrid had already applied to have part of the pipeline’s route altered and could again make “slight variations” to change the existing route.

Eirgrid was granted permission by An Bord Pleanála last year to build the East-West interconnector pipeline between Ireland and Wales.

The pipeline will be placed one metre (3.2ft) below ground and will run underneath the main road in the town.

The council argues that it is the “shallow depth” of the pipeline that presents a continuous health risk to people, as the pipeline will run adjacent to a national school and residential homes.

Previous correspondence between the council and Eirgrid shows the company has addressed health concerns through the evidence of Dr William Bailey, an American research scientist and consultant who is paid by the company.

The council is refusing to accept the evidence provided by Dr Bailey because they say he is being “paid to advance the arguments” of Eirgrid and is not “in a position to provide impartial information” to resolve the issue.

A spokeswoman for Eirgrid said Dr Bailey has more than 25 years experience in the evaluation of research for scientific, governmental and private organisations but would not disclose how much is spent on his services.

Dave Sheehy, who is a member of Rush Community Council, said the company had sent letters to local residents that contained misrepresenting information about the units of radiation emitted by the interconnector pipeline.

When quoting the World Health Organisation, the company replaced the statement “inadequate evidence” with “no evidence” to support claims that humans are not affected by magnetic fields, according to Mr Sheehy.

“If Eirgrid cannot adequately address concerns relating to the community’s health and safety, then what faith can we have in their ability to address more serious problems or issues that could occur in the future,” Mr Sheehy asked.