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Public Inquiry >>
Shell to Sea demand answers on polluted water.
Saturday March 24, 2007 16:52 by EC
After failing to receive satisfactory explanation of the continually excessive levels of aluminium documented in County Council figures, missing testing results and suspected untreated run off from the site a contingent of Shell to Sea campaigners visited the council offices yesterday evening to demand answers.
Shell to Sea campaigners view aluminium levels in Belmullet Mayo coco offices
Run off was noticed on Friday morning from the same drain that had caused concern sparking a site inspection by Shell to Sea on Thursday. On noticing the suspect run off for the second morning in a row campaigners went to the site gates to demand to see the site environmental officer or Axonics engineer. They were asked to wait an hour before being told that nobody was prepared to meet them. Campaigners decided to try to get answers from the County Council.
A contingent of around 12 Shell to Sea people met at the council offices in Belmullet at 3pm asking to speak with the person responsible for the project. Campaigners were told that nobody was available to talk to them and that a message would be passed onto the relevant people. Campaigners requested a meeting with Paddy Mahon and Elaine Cavanagh who sign off on the water testing results. They were told this could not be arranged as the people in question had their phones turned off. At 5pm campaigners were asked to leave the offices.
They politely refused, saying they could not leave until they got an answer. Council staff called the Gardai requesting them to remove campaigners. Campaigners remained in the council offices for over half an hour after closing time until a meeting was arranged with the requested people. A meeting with Shell to Sea representatives and the relevant council people was arranged for next Wednesday. The Gardai remained outside the building in a squad car. Shell to Sea people left the council offices at 5:40pm.
The discoloured water was first noticed running off the site early on Thursday morning by a local woman. Campaigners became concerned and promptly called the fisheries board requesting that samples of the water be taken for testing. Two representatives from the fisheries board arrived to inspect the discharge but claimed that they could not test the water as they were not qualified. Campaigners underlined the gravity of the situation and requested that samples be taken. Eventually two other people who failed to identify whether they were with the County Council or the fisheries board arrived out and took samples. A Shell to Sea person with an aluminium testing kit also tested the water and found the levels to be in exceedance of EU and WHO allowed limits.
In the meantime campaigners attempted to get an explanation for the suspect discharge, and ongoing excessive levels of aluminium in the County Councils recorded tests. Requests were made at the gates of the site to speak with the environmental officer and/or engineer responsible for the Axonics unit. Campaigners were told to wait half an hour, they were then told to direct enquiries to the Bangor Shell office. Between 10am and 1pm six attempts were made to phone the office; each time the phone was not answered. The phone was eventually answered around 1:15pm. The Shell to Sea person who rang the office was told that the contaminated run off was not Shell's responsibility but the County Councils. When she told them she wised to make a formal complaint she was told she could not. She requested that Shell personnel from the office come down to witness the untreated run off; they refused. A second request was made at the site gates to see the environmental officer and/or engineer. Campaigners were told the people in question were not available or prepared to meet them. Campaigners then decided to conduct their own site inspection and over thirty people entered the site requesting to see the Axonics and talk with the relevant people.
Examining the testing results showing excessive aluminium in the water.