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.
Belmullet District Court Report – Shell and Mayo County Council stand co-accused of obstructing the public highway. – Indymedia Ireland
in Belmullet district court Shell and Mayo County Council stood co-accused in a case for blocking the road during the disastrous attempt to deliver the Tunnel Boring Machine to Shell’s tunnelling site at Aughoose in August this year. The co-accused settled out of court with the plaintiff and had the case struck out before the details were made public.
It is rumoured however that the case was taken by a fisherman who was suing for obstruction and loss of earnings, and that the plaintiff settled out of court for one thousand Euro. During the TBM debacle in August the main Ballina North coast road was closed while Shell’s jack-knifed lorry carrying the TBM blocked the road for days.
This is dangerous territory for Shell and the County Council as literally thousands of road users were obstructed at the time in the same way. – Watch this space….
Shell to Sea cases
There were four Shell to Sea cases up for mention.
It was the first appearance for a campaigner arrested on Monday morning during an action blocking access to Shell’s tunnelling compound. An order for the Garda book of evidence was made and the case was put back to the 9th of January.
The next case was for obstructing machinery laying a water pipe to the tunnelling compound. This was also put back to the 9th of January.
The third case was for a lock-on action that blocked the TBM for a number of hours in August while in transit to Mayo from Dublin port. In his absence the defendant – who had already plead guilty – was given the probation act and so avoided conviction.
In the last case Shell to Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington was due to set dates for hearings to defend cases arising from the TBM debacle. She wasn’t in court though and a bench warrant was issued for her arrest. Sgt. Butler was visibly disappointed when she arrived in just before the court was finished for the day and the warrant was vacated.
Related Link: http://www.rossportsolidaritycamp.org