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Johnny McElligott (Safety Before LNG)
Posted on 23 Nov 2009 1:05 pm
Copy of letter sent on November 19th 2009 to Mr. Brendan Smith T.D., Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Food by the Safety Before LNG group:
Re: Impacts of Corrib Shell pipeline ruling and European Court of Human Rights case concerning safety aspects of Milford Haven LNG project on the Shannon LNG application for Foreshore Licences MS51/9/596-599
Safety before LNG
19 November 2009
Mr. Brendan Smith T.D.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food,
By email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
cc Minister for State Mr. Trevor Sargent T.D ( Trevor.Sargent@agriculture.gov.ie ),
Minister for State Mr.Tony Killeen T.D. ( Tony.Killeen@agriculture.gov.ie ),
Foreshore Section , Coastal Zone Management Division ( Gerard.Sheil@agriculture.gov.ie, Sylvester.Murphy@agriculture.gov.ie and Danny.OBrien@agriculture.gov.ie ),
Mr. Eamon Ryan T.D. Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources ( email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org ),
Mr. Simon Coveney T.D (email@example.com ),
Ms. Joan Burton T.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org ),
Ms. Liz McManus T.D. (email@example.com )
Re. Impacts of Corrib Shell pipeline ruling and European Court of Human Rights case concerning safety aspects of Milford Haven LNG project on the Shannon LNG application for Foreshore Licences MS51/9/596-599
Before a final decision is made by you on the Foreshore Licence application by Shannon LNG we are informing you that we are of the opinion that you are under an ethical and legal obligation to consider the following issues and precedents raised by the recent An Bord Pleanala decision on the Corrib Shell pipeline and by a case on the Milford Haven LNG terminals currently being considered by the European Court of Human Rights.
The Shell Pipeline Decision:
The precedent of the GA0004 Shell Pipeline decision by An Bord Pleanala of November 2nd 2009 where for the first time the consequences of an accident are being considered and not only the probability of an accident now needs to be equally implemented with this foreshore licence application.
The Bord found as unacceptable in its decision letter in 2(c)
"the impacts on the local community during the construction and operational phases of the development which would seriously injure the residential amenities of the area".
We also noted in 3(c) with great interest the appropriate standard against which that major hazard pipeline would now be assessed:
"the routing distance for proximity to a dwelling shall not be less than the appropriate hazard distance for the pipeline in the event of a pipeline failure. The appropriate hazard distance shall be calculated for the specific pipeline proposed such that a person at that distance from the pipeline would be safe in the event of a failure of the pipeline".
The decision letter goes on to state in part (d) on page 3:
"In order to eliminate any doubt please note that all failure modes should be included including the possibility of third party intentional damage"
In part I of page 3 the Bord requests:
"details of the hazard distances, building burn distances and escape distances in contours for the entire pipeline"
LNG expert Dr. Jerry Havens, in his submission to the Shannon LNG application noted:
"If an LNGC were to be attacked in the proximity of the shoreline, either while docked at the terminal or in passage in or out of the estuary, and cascading failures of the ships containments were to occur, it could result in a pool fire on water with magnitude beyond anything that has been experienced to my knowledge, and in my opinion could have the potential to put people in harms way to a distance of approximately three miles from the ship. I have testified repeatedly that I believe that the parties that live in areas where this threat could affect them deserve to have a rational, science-based determination made of the potential for such occurrences, no matter how unlikely they may be considered."
In fact, a leak of LNG which is heavier than air will move laterally (along ground or water) until well beyond the distance at which it is still ignitable (12.4 kilometres);
The conclusion therefore is that allowing a foreshore licence application for a top-tier Seveso II LNG terminal, the most sizeable hazard in Ireland, where at least seventeen thousand people will live in harms way up to 12.4 Kilometres from the site and route of LNG tankers travelling the Estuary is unacceptable following the precedent created by the Shell pipeline decision by An Bord Pleanala. There has not even been an initial evacuation plan proposed or assessed and we now request that the hazard, burn and escape distances of both accidental and intentional damage be integrated into the assessment of this application as has been done for the Corrib Shell pipeline.
The European Court of Human Rights Case on Milford Haven LNG terminals:
The European Court of Human Rights has asked the British government for key clarifications on aspects of LNG safety at two large import terminals in Milford Haven, West Wales which parallel exactly the same issues raised by us concerning the Shannon LNG project.
The court has asked the Government to explain who was responsible for assessing all risks posed by the LNG terminals, including marine risks, and what risk assessments were done and were made public and when.
The court has specifically asked the following questions:
"1.Which bodies had responsibility for assessing the risks associated with the LNG projects and advising the planning authorities and how was responsibility divided among the various bodies concerned?
2. Have the relevant authorities discharged their positive obligations to protect the applicants' rights under Article 2 and/or Article 8 of the Convention by ensuring that:
(a) they have complied with their duties in relation to the regulation of hazardous industrial activities and, in particular, have properly assessed the risk and consequences of a collision of LNG vessels or other escape of LNG from a vessel in Milford Haven harbour or while berthed at the jetty?
(b) relevant information on the nature and extent of the risk posed by the hazardous industrial activities has been disclosed to the public in accordance with the principles set out by the Court (see, inter alia, Oneryildiz v. Turkey [GC], no. 48939/99, ECHR 2004XII; Guerra and Others v. Italy, 19 February 1998, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1998I; and Giacomelli Italy, no. 59909/00, ECHR 2006...)?"
The Corrib Shell Pipeline decision by An Bord Pleanala and the clarifications requested by the European Court of Human Rights from the UK government on the LNG siting decision in Milford Haven highlight the key ethical and political issue as being the one of acceptability of risk - as opposed to the narrower issue of the probability of accidents - by considering the possible consequences of siting extremely hazardous installations in close proximity to communities without their consent.
If, even within this narrower criteria of probability, the probability of an LNG accident on water has not even been assessed in the form of a marine QRA or the assessment of an LNG spill on water, then the Foreshore Licensing process is leaving itself wide open to challenges in the courts.
As already highlighted by us to you on June 4th 2009:
- The remit of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) stopped at the shoreline and so the HSA did not assess any marine safety aspects of the project or any intentional damage to the terminal or LNG ships;
- the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) is only assessing safety aspects of the pipeline and not of the terminal itself or any marine safety aspect of the project;
- we now fully intend to audit the work of Shannon LNG, the CER and the Foreshore Section of the Department of Agriculture in assessing the safety aspects of this project. If a court considers that your Department has not assessed this application properly then the foreshore licence may be revoked. The main criteria that must be assessed is whether the project is safe and absolutely necessary - a task you cannot complete without the information we have signalled to you as missing;
- the Departments powers are widespread and as the Foreshore Licence is the last in line of the licensing processes that can deal with the safety aspects of this LNG project then it has a duty to cover any regulatory gaps not covered by the other statutory bodies in dealing with this project to date
The relevant An Bord Pleanala Decision on the Shell Pipeline and the Statement of Facts of the European Court of Human Rights case are attached for your information and we reserve the right to await the outcome of the court case before initiating legal action to protect our rights.
We await your feedback.
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