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Earthquake sparks fears over safety of Corrib gas field

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Earthquake sparks fears over safety of Corrib gas field


Áine Ryan

A MAYO County Councillor has called on Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte to address the many concerns of Erris and Mayo residents in the wake of the magnitude 4.0 earthquake that occurred in waters about 90km off the coast of Belmullet, just before 9am yesterday.
Sinn Féin’s Cllr Rose Conway-Walsh said: “I have received telephone calls from a significant number of people across the constituency regarding the earthquake. While it is too early to speculate as to the cause of the quake, people, particularly in the Erris area, are concerned that the force 4 earthquake is in some way linked to the works being carried out on the Corrib Gas Project. People need to be assured the seismic testing that is being done along the sea- bed off the west coast is not in any way connected to the earthquake.”
She said that people were also concerned about the fact that a possible earthquake had not been addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the controversial project. Cllr Conway-Walsh said many concerned residents wanted to know if ‘the existing Corrib infrastructure has moved or been damaged by this morning’s earthquake’.
“All these critical issues need to be addressed in a timely, transparent and accurate way by Minister Rabbitte, the developer and the various departments and bodies that have been tasked with responsibility for monitoring the project. This is the first real test of accountability around the safety of the project and people will see it as an indication as to how future significant events will be dealt with,” Cllr Conway-Walsh said.
Meanwhile, a Shell spokeswoman said that the company’s ‘planned seismic survey work had not started yet’. Responding to questions by The Mayo News, Shell said: “The epicentre of today’s earthquake off the coast of North Mayo was 23km south-south-east of the wells at the Corrib Field. Shell E&P Ireland Limited has no reason to believe that this event has had any impact on the sub-sea infrastructure. However, as a precautionary measure, a visual inspection of the offshore infrastructure will be carried out in the coming days.”
Commenting on the quake, Minister Rabbitte said all evidence so far pointed to this being a ‘naturally occurring earthquake’. The epicentre was on a known fault line west of the Irish shelf, and was slightly larger than usual, he said. Mr Rabbitte said there was ‘no link’ to the Corrib gas field in Co Mayo, which was not in production.

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