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Corrib "Armada" flounders on Mayo coast

category mayo | environment | news report author Wednesday August 13, 2008 03:25author by JM Report this post to the editors

Shell-hired boats poorly handled in Broadhaven Bay

The so-called "Corrib Armada" may be heading for the same fate as the Spanish original, as several Shell-hired vessels have entered the troubled waters of the ongoing Corrib gas saga.
See-sawing on the rocks
See-sawing on the rocks

This morning at dawn (Tuesday) Broadhaven Bay saw yet another Shell boat in trouble. Several times during the recent dredging operations (for the planned offshore pipeline) vessels have encountered problems, and the Vlaanderen VII was the latest casualty.

For about six hours the barge sat helpless on the submerged rocks close to shore at Glengad, presumably forced there by the choppy waters and sudden surges in the early light [a drunken skipper is also a possibility as happened at Ballyglass three years ago; that culprit fled this jurisdiction after damaging fishing boats tied-up at the pier].

The bow of the boat, pointing out towards Erris Head, received repeated blows from the breaking waves for several hours before an eventual rescue by the accompanying tugboat. Several attempts were made to free the barge, which spun a number of times back and forth as if on a turntable, before it finally slipped into deeper water. It was then towed back towards Ballyglass at a snail's pace, with no work done on the sea-bed.

During the tug-of-war the onlooking Noirin Ban (a local pleasure boat hired as an escort) almost capsized as it exposed it's flank and stern to the crashing waves.

Previously, the dredger itself had repeated problems on the job at Glengad, limping back and forth to Ballyglass (and even up to Donegal) for emergency repairs.

Between rocks and dolphins and careless handling, the Corrib armada has appeared very shaky at times, and none of this bodes well for the feted Solitaire, due to enter the fray later this week.

stern exposed
stern exposed

tug working hard
tug working hard

still tugging
still tugging

finally freed
finally freed

author by JMpublication date Wed Aug 13, 2008 14:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"A massive pipelaying vessel twice the length of Croke Park will steam this week into the choppy waters of the Corrib gas dispute.

"... Protestors claim Shell is attempting to construct the first 200m of the 9.2km onshore section of the pipeline before An Bord Pleanala makes its decision on the onshore section.

Shell's External Affairs Manager John Egan said 22 vessels will be involved in the Corrib project, adding: "You could describe it as the Corrib armada."

Related Link: http://www.independent.ie/national-news/pipelaying-leviathan-head....html
author by Rudigerpublication date Wed Aug 13, 2008 16:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It is worth noting that in 2005 a skipper of another barge that was contracted to Shell had to be detained by local fishermen after he rammed into boats at Ballyglass pier when he was drunk. He was subsequently brought to the garda station and charged but failed to show up again at court.
The danger is also there with these ships coming so close to the shore that if they are grounded that a diesel or oil spill will occur. These ships would be carrying hundreds of gallons of diesel presumably and if there was a spill it would do considerable damage to the marine life. In spite of this however no State authority has taken any interest in seeing if any pollution has occurred (of course the Gardaí who are stationed about 300m from the grounding area don’t count). Once again it is left to the local community to provide scrutiny when it comes to Shell.
Already there is significant pollution in the bay because of the works both on the beach and new causeway area and also from the dredging that is going on directly out from the causeway. Last week there was already a layer of silty mud sitting on top of the sand around the causeway area. So far the relevant authorities have shown their usual lack of interest in anything Shell does out of the way.
In the last week, Shell has taken to using the new causeway as a storage area for soil that was taken from above the high water mark. So they are transporting soil from an area where the sea can’t get at it to an area where it can. The sea has already taken some of the lower soil however with the higher tides due next week a lot more needless pollution will be washed into the sea.
There has been a very noticeable colour change around area of the Shell work for the last number of weeks, with brown strips of sea marking out where Shell are working.

Causeway last week
Causeway last week

Causeway as a soil storage area
Causeway as a soil storage area

SAC getting mangled
SAC getting mangled

Winching area
Winching area

Related Link: http://www.shelltosea.com
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