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Refinery fire

corrib arson
BURNT-OUT  Gardaí surveying the scene of Friday night’s arson attack at the Shell Corrib gas premises in Aughoose, Bellanaboy. Pic: John O’Grady

Fire near Corrib gas terminal condemned

Anton McNulty

A FIRE which destroyed thousands of euros worth of materials used by contractors in the development of the Corrib gas refinery has been condemned by Shell to Sea, who say the incident does nothing to benefit their campaign.
Three units of the Mayo fire service, assisted by Shell contractors, fought the fire from nine o’clock on Friday evening before it was brought under control at four o’clock the following morning. Gardaí are treating the incident as suspicious and it is generally believed that the fire was started deliberately. Garda technical experts and crime scene detectives spent last Saturday examining the scene and testing for any accelerants.
Over 100 timber mats, known as ‘Bog Mats’, which are used to construct temporary roadways through bogland, were destroyed in the fire, with a loss of thousand of euros. The timber was stored in a roadside compound on forest landed owned by Coillte at Aughoose, about 1.5km from the terminal boundary. Some trees and plastic ducting were also damaged by the fire.
Mr John Monaghan, a spokesman for Shell to Sea, said he believed the fire was started deliberately and condemned ‘without reservation the apparent criminal damage to materials’. He said that this sort of activity was of no good to the Shell to Sea campaign.
“Whoever is responsible for this fire, and we could speculate all day long as to who did it, were of no benefit to anyone and were of no benefit to the Shell to Sea campaign. It seems that it was deliberately done because it would be unusual for a fire to start like this at this time of year.  There was no need to do this and it is not going to do anyone any good,” he said.
Mr John Egan, spokesman for Shell E&P Ireland, told The Mayo News that he was in no doubt that the fire was started deliberately but had no idea how it started. He said that bog mats cost approximately €250 each and the ones destroyed had been on hire to Roadbridge.
“The bog mats were stacked neatly on hard, sandy ground so it is hard to see how it could have been an accident. The guards have not told us how it started but I believe it was deliberate. The mats would have been out in bad weather and would have been wet so I could not see how the fire could have been anything but deliberate,” he said.
The Pro Gas Mayo group condemned what they claimed was ‘wanton destruction’ of the property and said it was in line with last year’s forest fires which started close to the perimeter fence. They said that such actions are damaging to the reputation of Mayo and Erris and also damaging the future job prospects in the region.
Meanwhile, Shell to Sea have complained to the Minister for the Environment regarding what they claim are breaches to the Minister’s order for the restoration of SAC land at Glengad. Last October, Minister John Gormley found that the drilling of two bore holes by Shell and RPS consultants at Glengad was illegal and ordered that the land be restored.
Last week, work on restoration of the land began at Glengad but Shell to Sea claim that the use of track machinery and other machines had damaged the SAC and was in breach of the Minister’s order. Mr Monaghan told The Mayo News that they were highlighting to the Minister the damage caused.


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