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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Terry Nolan of Royal Dutch Shell Oil stated that this article didn't "live up to the journalism for which The Nation is renowned." In our opinion, Zaitchik's article was exactly what your publication is all about--good research, thoughtful evaluation and the ability to highlight situations that have often been unfairly portrayed, or simply overlooked, in the mainstream news.

Unlike Terry Nolan, the Doyle family of West Newfield, Maine, felt Zaitchik's article was "right on the mark." We have visited the Pollatomish area during three separate summers, and are deeply concerned with the impact that the Corrib Gas Project has had on the environment, the well-being of the residents, and the spirit and atmosphere of the community.

On our last visit during this past July 2008, the constant noise from the construction, the back-up of traffic, the destruction of the beach, the off-limit areas for walking and the unbelievable presence of Gardai and security left us with a feeling of complete shock, uneasiness and great sadness. When we were taking photos of the area, we noticed someone taking pictures of us and our car. It is deeply unsettling and intimidating to live with a feeling of being watched when you are simply trying to take a walk near a public beach.

Our 18-year-old daughter was so deeply affected by what she saw in County Mayo that she wrote a paper on the Corrib Gas Project, created a slideshow and led a discussion in her advanced placement environmental science class at her high school in New Hampshire. She drafted a petition for reconsideration of the project and sent it to Mr. Mark Carrigy, the operations manager of the Corrib Gas Project, and to Mr. Noel Dempsey, the former minister for communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

Although we do not live in the Pollatomish area, we feel a great love for the environment of the area and an appreciation for the traditional way of life that values the land and the water and agriculture and fishing. We worry about the risks involved with highly pressurized raw gas being transported over such an unstable bog area. We are concerned about the effects on marine and bird populations. We worry about the burning off of greenhouse gases and the toxins associated with the project. We are concerned about the effects on the water supply.

Nolan's statement that "a majority of the local community support the project" truly shocked our family. We would be curious to know in regard to what information this statement was based. We witnessed an abundance of properties that housed signs of protest to the project and met many people of all different ages and from all different backgrounds who opposed it.

Nolan shared employment statistics (1,000 workers building the terminal) for the Corrib Gas Project in his criticism of Zaitchik's article. It appeared that this number was being cited as a justification of support for the existence of the Corrib Gas Project. The number of people employed in a project does not always correlate with support of the project.

Nolan's citing of employee numbers is reminiscent of the situation of workers in the States who make a living from mining. In certain areas, miners form the major employment group. But often, when asked, miners will admit that they have great concerns about their health, safety and the effects of their mining on the environment and such issues as global warming. When the construction of the Corrib Gas Terminal is complete, what happens to those 1,000 workers who, Nolan implies, are supporters?

How exciting it would be if alternative forms of energy were explored in the County Mayo area that did not pose the serious dangers of the Corrib Gas Project that have been discussed in countless reports and publications.

Rachel Carson, one of the most respected environmentalists in America, once said: "One way to open your eyes to unnoticed beauty is to ask yourself, 'What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?' " Her words are being played out each day by those individuals deeply concerned about the future of the Erris Peninsula in County Mayo in Ireland.

Our family praises Alexander Zaitchik for raising awareness about the Corrib Gas Project in the United States, and we express our gratitude to all those in County Mayo who have courageously remained determined to protect their natural resources. May those who protest this project remain peaceful, safe and resolute in their efforts.

Mary Elizabeth Doyle

West Newfield, ME

Apr 29 2009 - 5:31am

Web Letter

I was very pleased to find Alexander Zaitchik's report in your paper. To underline his findings I would like to mention a letter written to Minister Ryan (Minister for Energy, Marines and Natural Resources) on October 16, 2007, by the three parish priests of Kilcommon. In contrast to Shell E&P Ireland and their subsidiaries, the local parish priests do reside in Kilcommon Parish, the area directly affected by the Corrib Gas Project and, also in contrast to Shell E&P Ireland etc., are in constant and meaningful communication with the community. Since this letter was written, more and more people have realized the damage that is being done to our environment and democracy. Events of the last years like jailings, a baton charge against peaceful protesters, injuries and heavy police surveillance in an up-to-now remote and peaceful area do deter local residents from showing their true opinion. Alexander Zaitchek managed to find the true story of our community behind Shell's PR.

Betty Schult

Pullathomas, County Mayo, Ireland

Apr 28 2009 - 2:42am

Web Letter

I was disappointed this article, which doesn't live up to the journalism for which The Nation is renowned. It appears Mr Zaitchik did not speak to a representative cross section of the local community when researching the article and failed to understand the complexity of issues involved. As managing director of the project, I must address some of the more serious errors in the article.

While I acknowledge a small hard core of protesters in the local community remain opposed, a majority of the local community support the project. Approximately 1,000 people--almost half from the Mayo area--are currently employed on construction of the terminal. A further 130 jobs (direct and indirect) will be created during the operational phase (fifteen to twenty years), in an area that has no significant industrial or commercial employment.

We have changed project design to address local concerns. Following an eleven-month public engagement process, we changed the proposed route of the gas pipeline. The new route is twice as far from occupied housing. Operating pressure in the pipeline will be lowered to less than half the original design pressure. Neither of these facts was reflected in the article.

The claim that heavy metal waste from the refinery would pollute Broadhaven Bay is untrue. The water will be cleaned to drinking-water standards; the only difference will be that it is saline. The Irish Environmental Protection Agency, confirms that emissions from the gas terminal “will not adversely affect human health or the environment and will meet all relevant national and EU standards”.

We continue to seek dialogue with the minority opposed to the project. The Corrib gas project is in the wider interests of Ireland and has the necessary legal approvals.

Terry Nolan

Den Haag, Netherlands

Apr 22 2009 - 3:34am

Web Letter

Shell sells seashore by the seaside.

Daniel De L'eau

Madison, WI

Apr 15 2009 - 10:52pm