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Irish Times: Dempsey to involve three bodies in Shell audit

Irish Times: Dempsey to involve three bodies in Shell audit

“Shell’s threat to withdraw from the 900 million project if the Minister’s review produced a “negative” finding that obliged it to build an offshore refinery, and the Minister’s own contention that he is bound by the project’s plan of development, suggested the review was already compromised before it started, the campaigners said.”: “The company insists it will not lift the injunction on the five men, who are now in their sixth week in jail over their opposition to the onshore pipeline.”

Wednesday August 10, 2005

Lorna Siggins Marine Correspondent

Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey promised to involve the Health and Safety Authority, An Bord Pleanala and the Environmental Protection Agency in reviewing Shell’s safety audit of the Corrib gas field project before issuing final consent.

“All aspects of the project from a safety point of view will be finally and fully dealt with through the project’s plan of development and through the phase seven consent,” Mr Dempsey said. It would not be solely up to Mayo County Council to approve it, he said, although it would be mandatory for him to take its position into account.

Under the current Bord Pleanala planning conditions for the project, the council only is responsible for approving Shell’s final safety audit. The audit does have to be submitted to the Health and Safety Authority and the department but does not require their agreement. The condition only relates to the Bellanaboy terminal and the section of high pressure pipeline within the terminal site.

The landfall to terminal coastal area from Rossport to Bellanaboy is not covered by any port authority which might assume an independent monitoring role. The Health and Safety Authority said that aside from the safety of workers employed on its construction, the onshore pipeline is outside its remit.

The Minister’s promise to involve the authority, the EPA and An Bord Pleanala, along with his own department, in phase seven appears to represent a new departure. However, the Shell to Sea campaign said last night it was studying Mr Dempsey’s comments before responding.

The Minister was clarifying remarks he made earlier this week in an interview on MidWest Radio, which had aroused concern among campaigners in Mayo who are supporting the five men in Cloverhill Prison.

The Shell to Sea campaign has expressed concern that the Minister has been put under undue pressure by Shell over the new safety review of the onshore pipeline which he has ordered.

Shell’s threat to withdraw from the 900 million project if the Minister’s review produced a “negative” finding that obliged it to build an offshore refinery, and the Minister’s own contention that he is bound by the project’s plan of development, suggested the review was already compromised before it started, the campaigners said.

“Not only is the safety review caught up in a number of contradictions, but Shell has created an atmosphere of compulsion which begs one question. If this review does produce a negative finding, will the Minister be able to act on it?” said Mark Garavan of Shell to Sea.

Shell said it is “fully confident of the outcome of the future independent safety review” and that it has stated consistently that an offshore terminal is not an option.

The company insists it will not lift the injunction on the five men, who are now in their sixth week in jail over their opposition to the onshore pipeline.

The men’s imprisonment and the issue of an offshore terminal is due to be discussed at an emergency meeting of Mayo County Council on Friday.

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