26-County Minister for Communications Noel Dempsey has been accused of siding with Shell Oil following a government report on its planned high-pressure gas pipeline through County Mayo.
Shell can now build its proposed nine kilometre pipeline through residential neighbourhoods providing it meets conditions outlined in the reports.
It is believed an explosion in the high capacity raw gas pipe from the offshore Corrib gas field to a refining plant inland could create a fireball that could engulf a wide area and cause numerous fatalities.
Two reports were made public this afternoon, one prepared for the overnment by British-based Advantica Consultants and another prepared by the Corrib Technical Advisory Group (TAG), a body set up by Mr Dempsey.
Dr Mark Garavan, spokesman for the Shell To Sea group, said the reports had “not changed anything.”
“We are still left with a production pipeline traversing a village and within 70 metres of some homes. Nothing has changed,” he said.
“The Advantica report amounts to a post-hoc justification of a flawed project despite many of the findings which confirm either the absence or the failure of the regulatory regime governing the Corrib Gas project to date.
“There is now a failure of courage by the Minister to follow the logic of these flaws and order a comprehensive re-configuration of the project,” he added.
Dr Garavan said the process which produced the Advantica report was defective resulting in a pre-determined outcome that the pipeline was “fit for use.”
“For example, Advantica could not enquire into the development concept used by Shell, could not enquire into development alternatives, could not make comparative safety findings, and did not comprehensively model the consequences of failure of the production pipeline.”
He said Shell had made no alteration to its project on foot of local concerns. “Today, the Minister has once again sided with Shell against the vulnerable communities of North Mayo,” he added.
The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Natural Resources, Martin Ferris TD has rejected Minister Noel Dempsey’s claim that the reports addressed all the concerns involved.
“Most significant of all is the fact that neither of the groups tasked with the investigation had the confidence or the co-operation of those immediately concerned with the pipeline.
“That in itself is a damning indictment. At the end of the day unless the pipeline has the confidence and support of the people of Rossport they will not accept its imposition. They will continue to have the support of Sinn Féin in their ongoing campaign.”