"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.”
RESIDENTS LIVING close to the Corrib gas pipeline’s land valve in Glengad, Co Mayo, say they were subjected to a continuous high-pitch noise over the bank holiday weekend, due to testing at the installation.
One elderly resident, Ena Gallagher (76), said she was forced to leave her home as it was “unbearable”, while Diane Taylor, who lives 700 metres from the land valve, said the sound penetrated double glazing, causing considerable distress.
The hydro-testing by Shell EP Ireland was sanctioned by Mayo County Council, which said noise levels were “within set limits”.
Residents living some 3.5km away in Stonefield near Carrowteigue said they could hear it continually from 7.30am to 7.30pm over four days from Friday to yesterday.
Glengad resident Colm Henry, who lives less than 400 metres from the land valve, said he had tried to contact the Shell freephone line and Mayo County Council due to the intensity of the sound.
“I can only describe it as a very loud high-pitch whine, which we were tortured with, particularly on Saturday when the wind was up,” said Mr Henry. “We had family visiting who had to leave, and it appeared to cause a lot of distress to animals in fields.”
Correspondence circulated last month by the Corrib gas developers to residents referred to hydro-testing and said the work would normally have taken place mid-week.
The correspondence said the testing would have to be conducted over a “short period” at the weekend due to the delay in arrival of a specialist sub-sea vessel.
No reference was made to noise in the correspondence, dated May 17th and May 24th.
Mayo county manager Peter Hynes said testing would continue today, but that no issues had arisen when it carried out “spot testing” of the noise last Friday.
Continuous monitoring was carried out by the developer, but this information was not available to the council, he said. His staff could not spot check, partly due to “health and safety concerns” related to a “protest”, he added.
Opponents of the project said however that no protest had been planned, or had taken place, and a gathering at Rossport solidarity camp comprised workshops and talks.
Mr Hynes said the noise levels had been set in permission granted by An Bord Pleanála for the onshore pipeline. He understood that community representatives elected to the project monitoring committee had been informed there would be noise. He said he would check if this information had been conveyed to residents.
Shell EP Ireland did not respond to a request for comment.