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Erris residents take action over water issue

category mayo | environment | news report author Thursday March 22, 2007 22:23author by Bob & Eve - Rossport Solidarity Camp Report this post to the editors

Shell to Sea enter Ballinaboy site

The full story of today's mass tresspass by Shell to Sea.

hpim1442.jpg

Todays' decision to enter the Ballinaboy site was a result of the extermely frustrating position the Erris residents are in, where no-one from the County council, the "Project Monitoring Commitee" or Shell will explain the contamination of the water supply (proven by the councils' own tests as well as testing done by Shell to Sea supporters) or explain what is being done to remedy the situation.

Contamination of the local drinking water source, Carrowmore lake, has been a serious concern for residents since Shell began to excavate peat from their proposed refinery site at Bellanaboy in April 2005. In the course of the peat excavation, of which they completed approximatly one quater, a layer of aluminium rich subsoil known as doube was disturbed. The aluminium from the doube succeded in contaminating the surface water lying on the site which was allowed to run off site untreated despite Shell's pledges to the contrary. In the almost two years since the peat was removed Shell and Roadbridge have failed miserably to adequately manage the water on site or to resolve the problem of aluminium contaminated water leeching into local watercourses and ultimatly the drinking water supply.

Early this morning a local woman noticed an unusually large discharge of discoloured water leaving the site via a drain running under the road near gate three. On closer inspection it became clear that the discharge was untreated water from the site running from a partially conclealed drain running under the site perimeter hedge. From the roadside it appeared that water was being pumped into the concealed drain from further up on the site. The woman and other protesters who had been at the morning picket became concerned and soon a dozen or so protesters gathered at the spot.

The protesters called the county council and the fisheries board to express their concern and to demand answers. A test was done by a Shell to Sea person showing an alarmingly high level of aluminium in the water leaving the site. A council representative agreed to meet members of Shell to sea at the proposed terminal site at around 12 o clock this morning although failed to turn up. Attempts were made throughout the day to contact members of the project monitoring commitee, as well as Paddy Mahon at Mayo County Council who apparently bears ultimate responsibility for the council's monitoring of Shell. None of these individuals were contactable.

When the council representative had not shown up by 3 30, the decision was taken to enter the site . A crowd of about 60 Shell to Sea campaigners opened the gate and walked in on the site. The security guards did not attempt to impede them. The crowd inspected the settlement ponds intended to seperate peat from the water and the drain taking water off the site. The water was seen to be of a dirty colour with a metallic sheen on the surface. After inspecting the water, about 20 of the older Shell to Sea people left the site again, as the muddy ground was proving a little treacherous to walk on. The remaining people decided to continue on up the site and try to find a site engineer to answer some questions.

After about twenty minutes, the police showed up with 2 paddywagons and 2 squad cars. One of the cars came up behind a Shell to Sea campaigner and quite intentionally bumped into him. When another individual banged on the bumper of the car to stop them driving over the man, several police jumped out of the car and started pulling and pushing the pair, one of whom had his finger sprained by the enthusiastic cops. 2 more paddywagons arrived shortly, bringing police numbers to about 30. Interestingly, one of the officers present, Sergeant Gill, is a member of the Project Monitoring commitee. He refused to take a page of test results from one of the Shell to Sea campaigners showing dangerous levels of aluminium in the water.

An inspector who identified himself as Adrien Foley (but refused to show ID) told the crowd to leave the site as they were trespassing. He was informed that unless the Guards had the express permission of the owners of the site to be there, then they were also trespassing and had no authority to arrest any of the crowd while on the site. The police then decided to back off and form a line, preventing any further movement into the site. When no-one had come to deal with the protesters' complaints and concerns by five o clock, they took the decision to leave the site. The police followed them out to the road, where they were greeted by a jubilant crowd of about 50 local residents. Once back on more comfortable terrain, the Guards resumed their usual antagonistic behaviour, forming a line and pushing the assembled Shell to Sea protesters not just off the road but crushing some people against the cars which were parked at the roadside. Luckily, no injuries were reported due to this sadly common thuggish behaviour by Gardai.

The action taken today was entirely the initiative of residents of the Erris area who were tired of getting the run-around from officials and being either ignored or beaten for trying to highlight the dangers that Shell pose to their area. There were no "outside elements" for the mainstream media to demonise today. Erris residents will continue to take whatever action necessary to protect themselves and their environment; they have little choice.

hpim1434.jpg

hpim1402.jpg

hpim1410.jpg

hpim1427.jpg

author by Terencepublication date Fri Mar 23, 2007 10:47Report this post to the editors

It's absolutely amazing the way the State has at least 20 Garda ready to rush to the support of the polluters at the drop of hat in what is basically one of the most rural parts of Ireland. And were they rushing up to help solve the pollution of the local drinking water of the people in the area? No. They were rushing up to ensure no further progress could be made about finding out anymore those causing the pollution.

Aluminium poisoning of the water is a very serious health and safety issue and contamination of water (and subsequent ingestion) is strongly linked to Alzheimer's disease or senile dementia. Aha, but that's obviously the plan, perhaps Mayo Co Co, Shell and the Gov hope that in a few years all the residents will have forgotten that all of this stuff about Shell, the pipeline, theft of gas and poisoning of the local lake and estuary never happened. It would be funny were it not so serious.

author by Investigator.publication date Fri Mar 23, 2007 10:57Report this post to the editors

In the second picture above, there is guard in the middle of the line of Gardaí. He looks like he's dressed in plain clothes.

He's new on the scene. Who is he and what is his role?

author by Marlboro Manpublication date Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:41Report this post to the editors

Looks like Special branch to me. They like to lurk about and look menacing. I'd imagine it’s an intimidation tactic, anyone who has campaigned on the left know these guys take notes and run checks and regularly update their 'subversive' lists like a crotchety old schoolmaster taking names.

Just look at the head on him. You just know he ain't getting any

author by Jimpublication date Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:53Report this post to the editors

Anyone who is concerned about the Aluminium issue and has no chemical or environmental background should read the following report.

Scroll down to page 24, 25 and 26.

http://www.mayococo.ie/en/News/GasTerminal/MinutesofMon...n.pdf

author by Maura Harrington - S2S; Davitt Leaguepublication date Fri Mar 23, 2007 13:30Report this post to the editors

Jim - you're wayyyyyyyyyyyyy out of date!

author by picturerpublication date Fri Mar 23, 2007 13:49Report this post to the editors

He looks like he's got a garda jacket on by the shoulder tabs, but he does seem to be skulking in behind the others trying make himself invisible...

Name the cop- win a prize
Name the cop- win a prize

Related Link: http://www.mayogasinfo.com
author by Pollytixpublication date Fri Mar 23, 2007 16:00Report this post to the editors

This is pertinant to the issue at hand. It was part of an email sent around.It may be of some use to those who wish to protect our natural resources.

The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights has announced a request for
relevant information for the upcoming study on the human right to water.
The announcement can be found at:
http://www.ohchr. org/english/ issues/water/ index.htm Along with the
announcement are the resource materials that will help to guide your
comments - see the bottom of the page, "useful links."

The request has a short timeline: April 15. This is the early stage of
the process. There may be other opportunities to present information as
the process unfolds. The UN OHCHR is asking for information about
specific cases, general views, best practices, among other matters.
There is an emphasis on the impacts of privatization on the right to
water. I urge you to consider also passing on this information and
working with, other NGOs that may be active in indigenous rights, in the
right to the environment, public health, the rights of children, the
rights of women, the rights of people in humanitarian crisis, economic
justice and labor rights.

Professor John Ruggie, the UN Special Representative on Human Rights and
Business, in his recent report, makes the important point that all human
rights are interconnected. Labor unions may consider a submittal on how
the changes in the water sector has impacted on labor rights. The
Special Representative' s report, and links to information on how to
conduct a human rights impact assessment, can be found at:
http://www.business - humanrights. org/Gettingstart ed/UNSpecialRepr esentati
ve

I strongly encourage each of us to consider following the UN process,
responding to the request for information, following our national
government's official responses to the UN OHCHR, and the regional human
rights bodies responses.

For guidance on how to prepare a communication, the UN OHCHR NGO
Handbook is helpful, with information, including examples, of how to
address communications to the UN OHCHR. Please see:
http://www.ohchr. org/english/ about/publicatio ns/

There may be human rights NGOs who could partner to make a submittal.
Academic institutions may be helpful. A broad coalition of groups from
one country, or one issue area, may also be effective.

The UN processes are meant to be participatory. It is not necessary to
have a sophisticated, legal opinion to communicate with the UN OHCHR.
The communication should be simple, to the point, reporting on human
right to water problems, violations, the facts of a specific case, or
views.

Please consider responding and posting communication to the internet,
and passing along the link to our greater water justice community. If it
is appropriate, UUSC is compiling a bibliography of materials on the
right to water, and if you wish it to be included, pass the link along.

____________ _________ _________ _________ ________
waterjustice mailing list
waterjustice@ tni.org
https://mail. tni.org/mailman/ listinfo/ waterjustice

author by Jack Doyle - Friend of the Earthpublication date Sat Mar 24, 2007 18:55author email jackdoyle64 at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address CorkReport this post to the editors

Well done to all. It seems that shells cops were a little slow off the mark. It is disapointing that the cops fell obliged to use such heavy handed tactics. I noticed Sergeant DA 51 in your pictures. He was quite vicious on the national day of protest. Anybody know who he is ?
Keep up the good work. Our day will come !

author by CLpublication date Mon May 07, 2007 20:33Report this post to the editors

The claims by shell-to-sea of shell poisoning carrowmore lake have been disproven by a newly published report
The claim by the shell-to-sea group that runoff from shells refinery site at bellanaboy was contaminating the drinking water supply to 10,000 people in Erris have been shown to be unfounded in a new report published by mayo coco.

The results show that in the last monitoring period the discharge of surface

water from the Terminal Site has had no significant impact on the water

quality of the Bellanaboy River or on the water quality of Carrowmore Lake.

The results also show that the discharge of surface water from the Terminal

Site has had no impact on the quality of drinking water produced at the Erris

Regional Water Supply Scheme at Barnatra. An isolated exceedance of

Aluminum in the Erris drinking water supply recorded by the HSE on Jan 23rd

2007 was a result of a minor operational difficulty at the Erris Regional Water

Treatment Plant. It is not linked to natural background Aluminum levels in

Carrowmore Lake. The operational difficulty was dealt with within a matter of

hours on the day.

surveys also shows that many of other streams feeding Carrowmore lake have higher Aluminum levels than the bellanaboy river.

the full report can be viewed here..............http://www.mayococo.ie/en/News/GasTerminal/MinutesofMon...n.pdf

author by Localpublication date Tue May 08, 2007 11:13Report this post to the editors

I think you'll find that a County Council would blame anything they could on a "minor operational difficulty " if it meant they did not have to confront Shell or face up to their responsibilites.

The fact remians that you can see the alumium in the test results for the water goming into the lake, and you can actually smell the diesel in the water in the ditches which is coming out of the site.

Of course, Confused Local (who says he does not want the refinery licenced) is accepting the line put out by the Council, over the evidence of his own senses.

I'm sure he thinks Galway council are doing a brilliant job on the water too...

author by Local 2 - .publication date Tue May 08, 2007 13:29author address BangorReport this post to the editors

This refinery is slowly killing the area, it has already killed numerous animals during its construction stage and it has also killed of plant life with in the confines of the refinery site.
It is just a matter of time before it starts killing people from its emissions either directly of indirectly through the food chain.
It is a crying shame that this death refinery has been allowed to get build with in this area of great natural beauty, it has already destroyed our tourist industry and it has already destroyed our community by dividing us in to two camps. I am one of the fortunate ones who work locally and do not have to travel out side the area to look for work, However if and when this death plant gets build , i for sure will see no other choice but to leave the area as my health comes first.

author by realitypublication date Tue May 08, 2007 15:11Report this post to the editors

to the poster who stated "and it has also killed of plant life with in the confines of the refinery site." .
are you seroius? you are actually complaining about the grass and weeds which have died as a result of the construction work!
Do you live in a house or travel on a tarred road? what about the plant life that was lost as a result of those things being built.
please people get a grip.
and if you dont trust the results of the report from the councel, then get your own tests done and produce the proof that the councel are lying.
throwing mud hoping some of it might stick isnt going to work with the people of errris anymore.

author by Local 2 - .publication date Tue May 08, 2007 15:54author address BangorReport this post to the editors

Yes I am complaining about the fauna and flora which has been lost already while the death terminal is being constructed, I am also complaining about the possible deaths which will be caused if and when the plant is operational. I am also complaining about the destruction of the region which will result in the spin off from the death terminal.
I do live in a house and I do drive a car , but that is not the point , the facts are this development will mean the end of eriss, as I said I am fortunate that I work locally and I have never had to travel for work in my life, as for the contractors who are working on the site , that’s their fault that they have to travel to find work, if they had stayed on at school or college maybe to they could be working locally , instead of traveling all over the country to find work and chase the big money.

author by myth busterpublication date Tue May 08, 2007 19:17Report this post to the editors

local2 reminds me of the posh lady who phoned Joe Duffy's live line the day Maura Harrington was explaining to Duffy why she would rather die than get into shells ambulance.
she visits the area most summers and doesn't want the area to change.
it is obvious she/he is a hypocrite as she/he is concerned about the bugs and plants who tragically lost their lives because of this "gas refinery" but the poor bugs and plants who were murdered when local2 house was built were different, (they deserved to die).
well that makes sense, as for the tag "death terminal", sounds catchy but will it stick?
there isn't a scientist on the planet who will say the emissions from this refinery will have any serious effect on people or environment.
But as usual the "experts" in the S2S group know better than any qualified expert, no surprise there.
that is probably why they have so many worried locals protesting everyday at the refinery site, there was THREE there this morning.
seems like the majority of Erris is behind the S2S campaign.
poor shell how will they ever get this "death terminal" built with that level of protest at the site, I guess they will announce any day now that they are giving up, and wont bring the gas ashore until JM and the chief tells them they are allowed!

author by Castlehill S2S - 'publication date Tue May 08, 2007 19:54author address CastlehillReport this post to the editors

What myths have you busted myth buster?. Come on inform us of your myth busting past ,
As for having a blast at john , well at least he is not cowering behind a wall with his face hidden when involved with the media at any level. Its men like john who this country should be looking up to.

author by MacEpublication date Wed May 09, 2007 12:26Report this post to the editors

Here's some myths bust wide open: http://buckfastforbreakfast.blogspot.com/2006/11/15-myt....html

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