The Department of Energy has confirmed that it has been investigating reports of “sinkholes” or “depressions” on a north Mayo tidal estuary where the final section of the Corrib gas pipeline is being laid.
The company says they are “not sinkholes” but are “shallow temporary depressions of approximately one to two feet in depth”.
However, residents living along the pipeline tunnel route through Sruwaddacon estuary – a special area of conservation (SAC) – say that some of the holes are up to three metres deep and three metres wide.
Terence Conway of Inver and Shell to Sea said that when the hole occurs, the surrounding sand bears a “blue tinge” and is unstable.
Mr Conway noticed the first in a series of holes on May 20th, again on June 14th, and each day during this first week of July, at Aughoose.
The areas lies above where the 500 tonne boring machine – named Fionnuala by Shell after one of the Children of Lir – has been deployed to dig a 4.9km sub-sea tunnel.
“The contractors for Shell have staff out at 5am on the strand, raking over these holes, but no caution signs have been erected in spite of our requests,” he said.
“This is a public strand, and so at one point we put up our own fence to warn people, but it was taken down,” Mr Conway said.
“Adults might be ok, but these are a risk to children. We were told we wouldn’t feel or see this work on the surface at the Bord Pleanála oral hearing nearly three years ago.
“We argued at the hearing that it was not suitable to try to dig a tunnel through an SAC, and one with the particular fluid subsoil here known as dóib.”
The Department of Energy said that the developer had notified it about “depressions in Sruwaddacon.
The department’s consultant tunnelling expert undertook a site review earlier this week, and the “depressions” were being “considered” in this context, it said.
Shell E&P Ireland said that regular “interventions” for maintenance and inspection of the tunnel-boring machine included changing cutter heads.
“This involves the use of compressed air at the front of the machine to protect the workers and to maintain stability at the tunnel face,” it said in a statement to The Irish Times.
In the year 2012, the Lord came unto Noah, now living in Ireland, and said: Once again, the earth has become wicked, and I see the end of all flesh before me.
Build another Ark and save two of every living thing along with a few good humans.
He gave Noah the blueprints, saying you have six months to build the Ark before I send unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights.
Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard – but no Ark.
I am about to start the rain! Where is the Ark?
Forgive me, Lord, begged Noah, but things have changed I need Bord Pleanala approval.
I have been arguing with the inspector about the need for a sprinkler system.
My neighbours claim that I have violated zoning laws by building the Ark in my yard and exceeding the height limitations. We have to go to an appeal’s tribunal.
Then the Department of Transport demanded I post a bond for the future costs of moving power lines to reach the sea.
I told them that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear nothing of it.
Getting the wood was another problem. There is a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the red squirrel.
I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the squirrels – but no go!
When I started gathering the beasts, an animal rights group sued me.
They argued the accommodations were too restrictive, and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space.
Then the EPA ruled that I could not build the Ark until they had conducted an environmental impact study on your proposed flood.
I am still trying to resolve a complaint with the ICTU over using Polish carpenters on my building crew.
Now immigration is checking the status of all the people on the job.
The trades unions insist that I hire only Union workers with Ark-building experience.
To make matters worse, NAMA seized all my assets, claiming I am trying to leave the country illegally.
So, forgive me Lord but I need at lest ten years to finish this Ark.
Suddenly, the skies cleared. The sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky.
Noah looked up in wonder and asked, ‘You mean you’re not going to destroy the world?’
‘No,’ said the Lord.
Your Blue Blouse/Marxist Government beat me to it.