Calls to halt plans for Cork gas terminal grow

Published by Shamim Malekmian on

December 5st, 2019

Calls for the annulment of plans to import liquefied natural gas to Cork became more prominent this week following the passing of a Green Party motion urging the Port of Cork to cancel plans to provide fracking infrastructure in the harbour.

The Green Party pushed for the passing of the motion in Cork County Council after it became aware that an American company was in talks to import LNG into Ireland through the Port of Cork.

Speaking to The Green News, Alan O’Connor the Green Party’s Councillor for Cobh, who authored the motion, said it would be “hypocritical” to ban fracking in Ireland while using the Port of Cork as an LNG terminal.

Emphasising that we should not forget that the LNG that is going to be imported to Ireland is formed through potentially dangerous fracking activities in the United States, Mr O’Connor described the plans as “selfish”.

“Yes, we have banned fracking, but we can’t turn our backs on the effects of fracking on communities elsewhere,” he said.  “It’s removing ourselves from a situation that is not affecting us. I think it is selfish. I think this line of thinking pervades our approach to environmental crises.”

Mr O’Connor said that American company NextDecade had signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the Port of Cork in 2017 “which opened up the possibility of developing LNG infrastructure” in the harbour.

Stating that the Port of Cork is a “semi-state” company, Mr O’Connor urged Minister for Transport Shane Ross TD and Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD to use their ambit of influence to annul the proposed plans.

“Still we don’t have the absolute power, to tell the Port of Cork to do this or that, but we hope that this motion would bring the public’s dissatisfaction to the Ministers attention,” he said. 

Mr O’Connor added that Minister for Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton TD must also feel obliged to voice his concerns about the issue, and intervene to stop the plans.

Natural gas pipeline USA Photo: Bilfinger

Save Rio Grande Valley from LNG

Eco-campaigners of Rio Grande Valley as well as other communities in South Texas where NextDecade runs the Rio Grande LNG project are also opposing the company’s prospective plans with the Port of Cork.

The group has urged the Port of Cork to “cut its ties” with NextDecade. The American campaigners have spearheaded a campaign against fracking and LNG export and fracking activities in their area for years.

The citizen environmental group, Save RVG from LNG, has been in contact with Irish campaigners upon learning about the prospective plans with the Port of Cork.

Green Party Councillor Oliver Moran told The Green News that the party’s representatives in Cork were encouraged to draft the motion after speaking to American activists in South Texas.  Around one million American wells have been fracked since the 1940s.

The Port of Cork Company declined to comment at this time and NextDecade did not reply to requests for comment.

Shale Gas Drilling Rig Photo: Max Pixel
Shale Gas Drilling Rig Photo: Max Pixel

The Environmental Cost of Fracking

Many sandstones and shales, far below the earth, contain natural gas, accumulated through the decomposition of dead organisms in the rocks.

Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is a process for extracting that gas by drilling into rocks and injecting pressurised water, sand and various chemicals to force out the gas.

The chemicals added to the pressurised water are meant to kill the bacteria and dissolver minerals. The formula, known as “fracking cocktail” often includes acids, detergents and poisons, prompting concerns for water pollution and other environmental contaminations.

Both methane gas and carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere as a result of fracking significantly contribute to the global climate crisis.

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Categories: Energy

Shamim Malekmian

Shamim is a Senior Reporter at The Green News and a contributing writer to the Irish Examiner, Cork Evening Echo and the Dublin Inquirer.