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Full public enquiry is only solution

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 Full public enquiry is only solution - Letters to editor, Western PeopleSIR – Your excellent editorial overview of the Corrib Gas/Rossport 5 situation sees the only solution as a “full public enquiry into the Corrib Gas project”. As this controversy has so many layers of misjudgement, mismanagement and misinformation surrounding it, there can be no other satisfactory solution.The current Review Body set up by the Minister has been discounted out-of-hand by the Shell-to-Sea group. This highlights how vexed and muddled the situation is.For example, the Minister responded to the media’s exposure of consent breaches by a) announcing a high-powered Monitoring Group headed by an engineering expert from outside his own Dept.; and b) by ordering Shell to dismantle the 2 km. welded section of pipeline.Neither of those have happened to date. Worse still, all mention of the independent high-powered Monitoring Group has vanished and has been replaced by an ‘in-house’ Technical Advisory Group headed by the Dept’s own Chief Technical Advisor on Energy - who presumably already had responsibility for the slack practices which caused these problems! On top of that, this new group was not appointed until 10th August - almost two weeks after the 29th July deadline for tenders for the Review Body contract. During that time the proposed Chairman was on holidays (according to his answering machine) so, despite the much-hyped urgency, responsibility for progressing the tendering process was blocked.When after another two-week delay the contract was awarded, it was admitted that the consultants appointed had worked for Shell in the past. What was not admitted was that they had recent ties with the Minister’s own Department for many years through their parent company, Transco, which provided the gas interconnectors between the U.K. and Ireland. Transparency and independence are therefore hard to credit in these circumstances. However revelations on BBC News on Thursday last - the very day the review contract was awarded to Advantica – were more shocking. There, it was revealed that Transco, the parent company of Advantica, had £15 million awarded against it because of a gas explosion which killed a family of four and demolished their home. The judge stated the company “had shown no remorse” and had tried to evade responsibility when, in fact, several major leaks in its massive mains pipeline were the cause. How can we trust such a group?The above evidence of misjudgement, mismanagement and misinformation are only the latest in the long-rolling shambles of the Corrib Gas saga. A wide-ranging public enquiry along the lines of a Bord Pleanala oral hearing is absolutely essential to return order and trust to the current mess. SEPIL’s efforts to bulldoze their way through in the hope of saving time and money have failed, as have the Department’s attempts to place the profits of a big corporation above the health and safety of the local people.Yours sincerely,Edward MoranChapel Street,Belmullet, Co. Mayo.

Posted Date: 
31 August 2005 - 7:09pm