Thursday 4 December 2008

Pipeline risk to residents ‘insignificant’

THE promoters of a €500 million gas terminal on the Shannon estuary have given assurances about the safety of a 26km pipeline which will run across country from Tarbert, in Co Kerry, to Foynes, Co Limerick.

Leon Bowdoin, engineering vice-president of Shannon LNG (liquefied natural gas), told an An Bord Pleanála hearing the pipeline was designed to the same standard as Bord Gáis pipelines.

Replying to concerns of people in north Kerry about the safety of pipeline, he described risks to people as “insignificant’.

Mr Bowdoin told the hearing in Listowel, pipelines were regarded as the safest and most reliable means of onshore, cross-country transport of large quantities of hazard product.

He also said the pipeline had been routed to avoid centres of population, minimise road and river crossings and to avoid areas liable to landslides.

The €58m pipeline will connect the country’s first LNG terminal, in Tarbert, to the national grid, near Foynes.

In relation to safety concerns raised by the group, Safety Before LNG, Mr Bowdoin said the risk of accident was extremely low, due to the design and operation of the pipeline. Shannon LNG has agreed to make manuals available to communities along the pipeline route so they can monitor the situation and see that best practice is followed.

However, Dr Catherine McMullin of An Taisce said the pipeline would run through a section of rich fen in the townland of Doonard Upper.

This habitat had links with the highly-protected Annex 1 habitat of alkaline fens. She said the mitigation measures proposed by Shannon LNG seemed inadequate.

Johnny McElligott, of Safety Before LNG, said no provision had been made to link the pipeline with the Tarbert or Moneypoint power stations and he called on the hearing’s chairperson, Anne Marie O’Connor, to address that situation.

Other local residents said the project would bring life back to Tarbert and Ballylongford, pointing out that upwards of 100 jobs would created.

A decision is due by February 18.

Irish Examiner

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