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Gas Refinery: Fundamental Objections – June ‘05

Corrib Gas Refinery/Terminal: 9 Fundamental Objections – June ‘05

1. Pipeline under gasfield pressure 150-345 BAR travelling 9km inland in close proximity (50-100m) to many homes is unprecedented anywhere. An umbilical conduit carrying supply lines for electricity and methanol (11oC flashpoint) would lie in the same trench.

    • ABP’s Inspector’s Report 'I would draw the attention of the Board to a response by Mr. Taylor …when asked is the crossing of an untreated gas pipeline, umbilical system … of 8km or more unprecedented. He submitted that it is the only one of a kind that he is aware of' (p.76 of 377).

2 Project splitting, whereby Planning Permission is sought for different stages of the project at different times and in pre-emptive sequence. This renders reasoned objection extremely complex. EU Reasoned Opinion (2001) addressed to the Irish Government seeks to end this abusive practice but the process is slow. As things stand, the licences granted for gasfield pipeline (Dept of Marine) and for the export pipeline (Dept Enterprise) create pressure for the granting of permission for the terminal. Application for the IPPC licence (EPA) re pollution is deferred, thus precluding it being scrutinised at this stage.

3. 49,500 barrels of highly inflammable substances to be stored on site were precluded from objection at the terminal Planning stage. Methanol, highly toxic and highly explosive, would be comprise more than half of this and waste condensate/oil to be incinerated on site would account for the remainder. Health & Safety Authority responsibility is confined to within the terminal area despite the compound risk posed to residents by the extremely dangerous ‘gasfield-pressure’ pipeline on this site.

    • ABP’s Inspector’s Report: 'Despite the NAOSH, as the designated competent authority, being required by 'Seveso II' and the 2001 Regulations to undertake consultation procedures…(it) has submitted no such technical advice on the risks to the community and the environment …. (this) leaves An Bord Pleanala in a position whereby an informed decision on this most significant public safety issue cannot be made' (p. 159 of 377).

4. The project requires installation of enormous refrigeration/pressure facility seven or so years down the line which will involve storage of huge additional quantities of highly inflammable gas (propane). Again no account of the potential dangers of this is permitted at the current planning stage, despite a specific requirement in EU Environmental Impact Assessment legislation for its inclusion.
5. Likewise, EU Environmental Impact Assessment requirements re investigation of alternative sites (and technology) were blatantly evaded by the developer at all stages of the application, despite specific Section 10 referral back by ABP for specificly such investigations to be made.

  • ABP’s Inspector’s Report:There is no evidence in the totality of the documentation now before the Board that specific alternative terminal sites were seriously investigated.

6. The Planning Authority (Mayo C.C.) failed to commission an independent technical evaluation of the previous application. The implications of this failure were acknowledged by the Planning Officer at the Oral Hearing under rigorous questioning by the Inspector. The so-called fast-tracking initiative by the government has resulted in this failure being repeated.

7. Because the proposed terminal/refinery site straddles a ridge separating two watersheds should there be a major disaster (e.g. Whiddy Island) the Carrowmore Lake SAC/SPA the south, which supplies the N.W. Mayo region, would be seriously polluted by outflow from fire fighting efforts etc., as would the magnificent Sruwaddacon SAC/SPA estuary c.1km to the north.

8. Both the gasfield pipeline and the export pipeline (to Craughwell in Co. Galway) would travel very considerable distances through bogland, which the contractors (Arup Engineering) acknowledge as the most difficult type of terrain due to its instability. Recent landslides at Pollatomish would undeniably have ruptured the gasfield pipeline (150 BAR pressure) had the original route not been objected to and consequently changed. The potential for instability in bog is by no means confined to landslides – bog bursts on almost imperceptible slopes are a fact of life in blanket bogland.

9. Condensate, a waste oil separated from the gas, is to be incinerated on-site despite the unlimited and free supplies of comparatively clean gas. Conveniently this entails the need for an IPPC licence from EPA which, in turn, pre-empts objections until a later post-planning stage. This illustrates the prevalent strategy of project splitting and facilitates incineration of pollution waste on site.

Posted Date: 
8 June 2005 - 10:49pm