Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor

 laudato_si_    Cry of the Earth

 

This is the title of Leonardo Boff’s seminal work on the inextricable link between social justice and environmental degradation, originally published in 1995.  Earlier, during the 1972 UN Human Environment Conference in Stockholm, it was also the rallying cry of India’s Prime Minister  Indira Gandhi who, on behalf of the developing world, forcefully insisted that poverty was inextricably linked with environmental degradation.  In Stockholm Mrs Gandhi had emphasised that “the environment cannot be improved in conditions of poverty  –  how can we speak to those who live in villages and slums about keeping the oceans, the rivers and the air clean, when their own lives are contaminated at the source?”

This is also the underlying theme of the encyclical Laudato Sì published by Pope Francis last June. It is not just a seasonal Latin American flavour at Vatican City.  The earth’s tears are continuously manifested in different ways depending on the manner in which she is maltreated .

Environmental degradation has a considerable impact on the quality of life of  us all except, that is, for the quality of life of  the select few who pocket the profits by appropriating for themselves advantages (economic or otherwise) and lumping the negative impacts on the rest.

Environmental degradation is an instrument of social injustice. Consequently, enhancing the protection of the environment is also essential to restore social justice.

The water table is subject to continuous daylight robbery: over the years it has been depleted by both authorised and unauthorised water extraction.  What is left is contaminated as a result of the impact of fertilisers as well as surface water runoff from the animal husbandry industry. Theft and acute mismanagement  are the tools used in the creation of this injustice.

The Malta Freeport has been quite successful over the years in contributing to economic growth and job creation. The price for this has, however, been paid by Birżebbuġa residents – primarily through being subjected to continuous noise pollution on a 24/7 basis. Various residential units in the area closest to the Freeport Terminal are vacant and have been so for a considerable time. A noise report commissioned as a result of the conditions of the Terminal’s environmental permit will be concluded shortly. Hopefully, the implementation of its conclusions will start the reversal of the Freeport’s negative impacts on its neighbours.

The Freeport, together with various fuel storage outlets, the Delimara Power Station (including the floating gas storage facility which will soon be a permanent feature) as well as fish-farms have together definitely converted Marsaxlokk Bay into an industrial port. As a result of various incidents during 2015, spills in Marsaxlokk Bay signify that Pretty Bay risks losing its title permanently.   Fortunately, Birżebbuġa residents have been spared additional impact originating from minor ship and oil-rig repairs after they reacted vociferously to a decision by the MEPA Board to permit such work at the Freeport Terminal.

Public Transport has made minor improvements but nowhere near what is required. It is essential that Malta’s congested roads are mopped up of the excessive number of cars. Improving the road infrastructure will just make it easier for more cars to roam about in our roads, thereby increasing the scale of the problem.  The major consequences are a reduced ease of access and the deterioration air quality.

We will soon be in a position to assess the impact of two other major projects: a business hub at the Malta International Airport as well as a car-racing track with various ancillary facilities. The former will take up land at the airport carpark but will have considerable impact on the surrounding villages. The car-racing track may take up as much as 110 hectares of land outside the development zone and have a considerable impact on both nature and local residents in the areas close to where it will be developed.

The list of environmental impacts that we have to endure is endless.

I could also have included the impact of the Malta Drydocks and the consequent squeezing out of residents from the Three Cities as a result of its operations, primarily as a result of sandblasting, in the 1970s and 1980s. I could also have added the impact of the waste recycling plant at Marsaskala and the refusal of the authorities to finance studies on the impact of its operations on the health of residents, or else the impact of the operation of petrol stations close to and within various residential areas.

The size of the Maltese islands is limited. A number of the abovementioned  activities/developments  are essential, but others are not. However, it stands to reason that we should not bear the brunt of non-essential activities or developments. This should lead us to plan more carefully so that  the impacts of the activities that are essential are adequately addressed.

As evidenced by the above list, unfortunately over the years those taking decisions betrayed their responsibilities towards the common good, seeking, instead the interests of the select few thereby compounding social injustices.

This is Malta’s contribution to the accumulated tears of Mother Earth.

 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 10 January 2016

Fl-2015, l-ambjent taħt assedju. Fl-2016 l-assedju ikompli.

msida_water. 021015

 

Is-sena 2015 kienet waħda li fiha l-ambjent kien taħt assedju. Assedju li bla dubju ser jintensifika ruħu matul is-sena d-dieħla. Għax ma hemm l-ebda dubju li l-aġenda tal-Labour hi waħda kontra l-ambjent.

Bla dubju mument importanti fl-2015 kien ir-referendum abrogattiv dwar il-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa. Referendum li intilef bi sbrixx imma li xorta wassal messaġġ qawwi, prinċipalment minħabba li huwa riżultat li nkiseb minkejja li kemm il-PN kif ukoll il-PL dejjem appoġġaw il-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa.

Wara spikka il-każ taż-Żonqor li wassal għal dimostrazzjoni kbira ġol-Belt. Iktar tard il-Gvern ipprova jagħti l-impressjoni li kien qed jagħti kaz u dan billi ċċaqlaq ftit.

Il-qagħda tat-trasport pubbliku matul l-2015 tjibiet ftit imma għadha lura ħafna minn dak li jixraqlu u għandu bżonn dan il-pajjiż. Hi l-unika tama li tista’ tnaqqas il-pressjoni taż-żieda tal-karozzi fit-toroq. Hi l-unika tama għal titjib fil-kwalità tal-arja. Inutli jwaħħlu fil-ħinijiet tal-ftuħ tal-iskejjel.

Matul l-2015 l-ilma tax-xita flok ma jinġabar fi bjar li qatt ma saru, baqa’ jintefa’ fit-toroq. Issa li x-xogħol fuq il-mini taħt l-art ġie konkluż il-periklu fit-toroq ser jonqos għax il-parti l-kbira tal-ilma ser jispiċċa l-baħar. Il-flus li intefqgħu fuq dawn il-mini kienu fil-parti l-kbira tagħhom flus moħlija. Kien ikun iktar għaqli kieku intefqgħu biex l-ilma jinġabar flok biex jintrema.

F’nofs dawn l-aħbarijiet negattivi kollha ġiet ippubblikata l-enċiklika ambjentali tal-Papa Franġisku. Fiha tinħass sewwa t-togħma Latino-Amerikana ta’ Leonardo Boff li tenfasizza r-rabta bejn il-faqar u t-tħassir ambjentali. Hemm tama li din l-enċiklika tista’ tkun ta’ siwi biex iktar nies jiftħu għajnejhom.

F’Ġunju l-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni qalilna li l-PN fil-Gvern għamel diversi żbalji ambjentali u li jixtieq li jibda paġna ġdida. Din id-dikjarazzjoni ta’ Busuttil tikkuntrasta ma dak li ntqal fir-rapport tal-PN dwar it-telfa fejn ġie emfasizzat li l-PN kien vittma ta’ sabutaġġ minn dawk maħtura biex imexxu (inkluż ovvjament mill-MEPA).

Il-battalja tat-torrijiet għadha magħna. Preżentement hemm pendenti żewġ applikazzjonijiet f’tas-Sliema, waħda f’Townsquare (38 sular) u oħra f’Fort Cambridge (40 sular). Ir-residenti, li bħal dejjem jispiċċaw iġorru l-konsegwenzi ta’ dawn id-deċiżjonijiet, huma injorati.

Kellna t-tniġġiż fil-baħar. Diversi inċidenti fil-Port ta’ Marsaxlokk li bihom ġie ikkonfermat, jekk qatt kien hemm ħtieġa ta’ dan, li l-Bajja s-Sabiħa m’għandhiex iktar sabiħa. Dan minħabba li issa l-port sar definittivament wieħed industrijali. L-unika ħaġa li jonqos huwa t-tanker sorġut b’mod permanenti fil-port biex fih jinħażen il-gass.

Nhar is-Sibt jorħos il-prezz tal-petrol u d-diesel. Għal uħud imissu ilu li raħas. Forsi kien ikun aħjar li ma raħas xejn. Hemm bżonn kull mezz possibli biex jonqsu l-karozzi mit-toroq. Il-prezz tal-fuel hu wieħed minn diversi miżuri li jekk użati bil-għaqal jistgħu jagħtu frott. Il-problema imma, sfortunatament hi li ma hemmx volontà politika.

IL-MEPA ser tinqasam. L-ippjanar għalih u l-ambjent għalih. Mhux ser isir wisq ġid b’din il-miżura għax is-saħħa amministrattiva li għandu pajjiż żgħir ġejja miċ-ċokon tiegħu. Meta taqsam l-awtorita f’biċċiet tkun ferm inqas effettiv. Hekk ser jiġri. Il-MEPA ma kienitx qed taħdem sewwa għax ma ħallewiex taħdem sewwa. Għax kienet imxekkla minn bordijiet li jew ma jifhmux inkella b’aġenda moħbija.

Dan hu l-wirt li s-sena 2015 ser tħalli lis-sena 2016. L-unika ħaġa pożittiva hi li bil-mod qed tiżviluppa kuxjenza ambjentali fost il-ġenerazzjonijiet li tielgħin.

Is-sena t-tajba? Forsi.

Land use planning : beyond rhetoric

Freeport 2015

 

There is a common thread running through a number of local land-use planning controversies: they are tending to either ignore or give secondary importance to environmental, social and/or cultural issues, focusing instead on economic considerations.

On this page I have discussed the impact of the Freeport Terminal on  Birżebbuġa a number of times. The basic problem with the Freeport is that its impact on the Birżebbuġa community were ignored for a very long time. In fact, an attempt to include a Social Impact Assessment as an integral part of the EIA which was carried out some years ago was given the cold shoulder by MEPA. The end result was that the decision-taking process was not adequately informed of the impact of the terminal extension, both those already apparent and those which were yet to come. In particular, no assessment was made of the disintegration of the sports infrastructure in the area that has  slowly been eaten up – primarily by the Freeport.

Most of this could have been avoided through an active engagement with the local community over the years at the various stages of the project’s planning and implementation. This is why plans for the Freeport’s expansion, as indicated by the Freeport Corporation’s CEO  earlier this week in an interview with The Business Observer, should be explained  immediately. Even at this early stage it must be ascertained that the situation for  Birżebbuġa residents will not deteriorate any further.

No one in his right mind would deny that, over the years, the Freeport has made a significant contribution to Malta’s economic growth. Few, however, realise that the price paid for this economic success has been the erosion of the quality of life of the Birżebbuġa community. This is certainly unacceptable but it will only get worse, once the gas storage tanker for the Delimara Power Station is parked within Marsaxlokk Bay in the coming months, very close to the Freeport terminal.

The same story is repeating itself in other areas. Consider, for example, the 38-floor tower proposed at Townsquare and the 40-floor tower proposed for the Fort Cambridge project, both on the Tignè Peninsula in Sliema. The Townsquare assessment process is reaching its conclusion, whilst the one in respect of Fort Cambridge is still in its initial stages. Yet both are linked to the same fundamental flaw: the lack of consideration of the cumulative impact of the development of the Tignè Peninsula – which includes the MIDI development as well as the individual small scale projects in the area.

The adoption of plans and policies which have made it possible for the authorities to consider the development of the Tignè Peninsula were not subject to a Strategic Impact Assessment and, as a result, the cumulative impact of implementing these plans and policies were not identified and assessed. The end result is that the proposed towers are justifiably considered as another disruptive and unwelcome intrusion by the Tignè and Qui-Si-Sana communities.

The developers and their advisors focus exclusively on the impacts which are generated by their proposals, with the authorities generally avoiding the consideration of the big picture at the earliest possible stage.

Preliminary indications from the proposed Gozo Tunnel and the Sadeen “educational” setup at Marsaskala/Cottonera are already pointing in the same direction. In both cases, the alternatives that were generally brushed aside are the very options that need to be examined in detail in order to ensure that the challenges that will be faced in 2016 and beyond have not been prejudiced by myopic considerations in 2015.

Planning failures have serious consequences on those of our local communities that have to bear the brunt of the decisions taken for a long period of time. These can be avoided if the authorities refocus their efforts and realise that the economy is a tool which has to be a servant, and certainly not a master.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 20 December 2015

Segretezza tal-Gvern u l-paroli vojt ta’ Simon Busuttil

Delimara floating gas stirage terminal

 

Xi ftehim ser jidħol għalih il-Gvern dwar l-elettriku li ser jinxtara mingħand il-kumpanija Electrogas?

Inkunu nafu t-tweġiba meta l-Gvern jippubblika l-informazzjoni dwar il-kuntratt u preferibilment jippubblika l-kuntratt innifsu. Dejjem jekk jippubblikah.

Jiena ma nafx x’fih il-kuntratt. Imma nistenna li jkun fih informazzjoni dwar mekkaniżmu biex ikun varjat il-prezz tal-elettriku li l-Gvern ser jobbliga ruħu li jixtri. Mekkaniżmu bħal dan ikun irid jipprovdi kif l-elementi li jvarjaw fl-ispejjes biex ikun ġenerat l-elettriku jittieħdu in konsiderazzjoni u eventwament jipproduċu prezz rivedut meta dan ikun meħtieġ.

Apparti l-profitti, hemm erba’ elementi li fuqhom inevitabilment ikun ibbażat il-prezz tal-elettriku li l-pajjiż ser jixtri mingħand l-Electrogas.

L-ewwel hemm l-ispejjes tal-impjant u l-finanzjament tiegħu. Dawn l-ispejjes, huma in parti fissi imma hemm parti minn din l-ispiża li tvarja u ċjoe l-interessi li jitħallsu lil min qed jiffinanzja l-proġett. Dawn l-interessi ivarjaw tul il-perjodu tal-kuntratt.

It-tieni hemm l-ispejjes tal-maintenance tal-power station u l-faċilitajiet anċillari għaliha li b’mod ordinarju jistgħu jkunu antiċipati. Ħsara straordinarja  tkun koperta minn insurance policy għall-impjant.

It-tielet hemm  il-prezz tal-gass innifsu. Il-kalkoli huma fuq prezz partikolari, probabbilment fuq il-prezz tal-lum magħdud miegħu xi varjazzjonijiet. Dan il-prezz tal-gass ser ikun garantit għal perjodu ta’ żmien. Waqt il-kampanja elettorali kienu qalulna li l-prezz tal-gass kien ser ikun garantit għal 10 snin, liema dikjarazzjoni mill-ewwel kien ċar li kienet ħrafa. Probabbilment li l-garanzija tal-prezz tal-gass ser tkun għal tlett snin. Wara t-tlett snin għad irridu naraw x’ser jiġri.

Ir-raba’ hemm il-pagi tal-impjegati li tul il-perjodu ta’ validità tal-kuntratt ser ivarjaw. Dawn ukoll ikunu riflessi fil-prezz tal-elettriku.

Ma nistax nimmaġina li l-ftehim li ser jagħmel il-Gvern mal-Electrogas ma jaħsibx għal dawn il-varjazzjonijiet. Dan mhux biss fl-interess tal-pajjiż imma hu ukoll fl-interess tal-Electrogas.

Ovvjament sakemm il-ftehim jibqa’ mhux pubblikat, dan mhux ser inkunu nafuh. Probabbilment li l-Gvern jibqa’ ma jippubblikax il-kuntratt bl-iskuża tas-sensittività kummerċjali tiegħu.

Filwaqt li m’ hux ġustifikat li l-kuntratt jibqa’ sigriet dan iżda ma jiġġustifikax il-paroli vojt tal-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni li qal li “meta jkun fil-Gvern” ma ’ jħossux marbut bil-ftehim u jkun lest li jixtri l-elettriku permezz tal-interconnector minn Sqallija, jekk ikun jaqbel.

Ilkoll nafu li d-deċiżjonijiet ta’ kull Gvern jorbtu lill-Gvernijiet ta’ warajh, kemm jekk taqbel magħhom kif ukoll ma taqbilx. Jorbot mhux biss il-Gvern tal-lum imma ukoll il-Gvernijiet tal-futur.

Din hi it-tieni darba għal  Simon Busuttil: xi żmien ilu kien qalilna li meta jkun Prim Ministru jirtira ċ-ċittadinanza li qed tinbiegħ illum mill-Gvern ta’ Muscat. Iżda issa ilu ftit ma jfakkarna dwar dan. Donnu irrealizza li anke dakinnhar  żbalja bil-goff.

Is-segretezza tal-Gvern w il-paroli vojt tal-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni ma jagħmlu ġid lil ħadd.

Gasan mhux mejjet bil-ġuħ

Delimara floating gas stirage terminal

L-anqas ta’ Tumas m’huma mejta bil-ġuħ.

Għax bla ma trid bilfors tasal għall-konklużjoni li mejtin bil-ġuħ meta tisma’ l-aħbar li s-self ta €350 miljun ghall-power station ta’ Delimara mal-BoV u tlett banek oħra ser ikun garantit mill-Gvern ta’ Malta minflok ma jiggarantuh huma u l-membri l-oħra li baqa’ tal-konsorzju s-Socar tal-Azerbajgan u s-Siemens.

Minn meta l-hawn il-Gvern jagħmel tajjeb għall-garanziji tal-kuntratturi tiegħu?

Mill-bidu nett kien jidher li hemm xi ħaġa mhux f’postha f’Delimara.

L-ewwel Joseph wiegħed li l-power station bil-gass ser tkun lesta sa sentejn mill-elezzjoni, inkella jirreżenja. Is-sentejn għaddew. Ma lesta xejn u ma rreżenjax.

Imbagħad fallew il-Gasol – li kellhom 30% sehem fil-proġett, il-partners ewlenin tal-proġett.

Issa daħal il-Gvern biex ikun garanti għas-self li hemm bżonn għall-proġett. Garanzija bhal din, normalment jagħmilha l-kuntrattur li jkun qed jieħu ħsieb il-proġett.

Hemm xi ħaġa tinten ħafna. Għax la Gasan u l-anqas ta’ Tumas m’huma mejtin bil-ġuħ. Kemm huma kif ukoll is-Socar u s-Siemens għandhom x’jagħmel tajjeb għas-self li ġie negozjat mal-BoV u l-banek l-oħra!

 

Il-gass għal Delimara: bil-vapur jew bil-pipeline?

laying the pipeline

 

X’ifisser id-dewmien fil-proġett tal-Gvern biex il-produzzjoni tal-elettriku taqbleb għall-gass?

Qed jissemmew ħafna raġunijiet. Fosthom il-qagħda finanzjarja tal-kumpanija Gasol plc, l-kumpanija barranija ewlenija li tifforma parti mill-Electrogas Malta Consortium inkarigat mill-proċess. L-Electrogas Malta Consortium huwa magħmul misSiemens Project Ventures GMBH (20%), SOCAR Trading SA (20%), Gasol plc (30%) u GEM Holdings Ltd (30%).

Qed jissemma ukoll li hemm kunflitt bejn l-obbligi li daħal għalihom il-Gvern ma dan il-Consortium u s-Shanghai Electric Power.

Minn diversi indikazzjonijiet jidher li l-Gvern ta’ Joseph Muscat beda juri interess partikolari fil-pipeline tal-gass minn Sqallija. Fil-fatt ilu ftit ma jissemma t-tanker tal-gass, kemm ġewwa l-port kif ukoll barra mill-port. Xi zmien ilu kienu qalulna li qed isir l-studju marittimu konness mal-proġett. S’issa ma nafx jekk hux konkluż, inkella jekk dan waqafx meta beda jidher ċar li l-problemi konnessi mal-wasla tal-gass bil-vapuri huma enormi.

Jekk dan hu l-każ ikun ifisser li qed isir il-progress u li d-diskussjoni pubblika qed tħalli l-frott, avolja wara ħafna żmien. Ikun għaqli kieku l-Gvern ikollu l-kuraġġ li jagħti l-informazzjoni vera ta’ x’qiegħed jiġri. Għax jekk il-Gvern ta’ Joseph Muscat hu kapaċi jirrealizza li kien żbaljat dwar it-tanker tal-gass fil-Port ta’ Marsaxlokk tkun rebħet ir-raġuni.

Igawdi l-pajjiż kollu u jitnaqqas drastikament il-periklu għall-komunitajiet ta’ Marsaxlokk u Birżebbuġa.

Mhux dgħjufija li tagħraf li kont żbaljat.

 

L-għaġġla ta’ Joseph spiċċat ?

gas at Marsaxlokk

Il-Prim Ministru qal li m’hemmx ħtieġa li l-power station ta’ Delimara tkun bdiet topera bil-gass għax il-Gvern xorta ser ikompli jraħħas il-kontijiet tad-dawl u l-ilma. F’Marzu li ġej , qalilna, jikkonferma li ser jorħsu l-kontijiet għan-negozji.  Tajjeb.

Ħarsu sewwa lejn l-artiklu li kitbet iktar kmieni illum Marlene Farrugia Membru Parlamentari Laburista. Il-mistoqsija li qed tagħmel Marlene jagħmilha kulħadd. Mela it-tanker fil-port m’hemmx bżonnu?

Jiena mmur pass ieħor.

Għaddew iktar minn sena u nofs u x-xogħol fuq l-impjant tal-gass għadu ma bediex. Meta wara l-elezzjoni tal-2013 kien għaddej id-dibattitu pubbliku l-Gvern ta’ Joseph Muscat kien insista li ma setax jistenna l-pipeline tal-gass għax dak idum u ried soluzzjoni ta’ malajr li seta jasal għaliha biss bit-tanker.

Iż-żmien igerbeb u t-tanker tal-gass għadu ma ġiex.

L-għaġġla donnha li issa spiċċat. Jiġifieri kien possibli li nippjanaw għal pipeline tal-gass.

M’hemmx babaw fil-Port Ħieles

MXlokk Bay facilities

 

Uħud jidhrilhom illi meta tkun qed issemmilhom il-potenzjal tal-periklu li hemm fil-Port ta’ Marsaxlokk tkun qed tipprova tbeżżagħhom bil-babaw, jiġifieri b’xi ħaġa immaġinarja. Xi ħaġa li ma teżistix.

L-inċident li seħħ fil-Port Ħieles kmieni nhar il-Ħadd 5 t’Ottubru 2014 wara nofsinnhar huwa prova li fil-Port Ħieles m’hemmx il-babaw iżda li l-potenzjal li hemm ta’ periklu hu veru u reali. It-tromba li għaddiet minn fuq Birżebbuġa, wara, baqgħet għaddejja lejn Sqallija fejn ħalliet ħafna ħsarat warajha fl-inħawi ta’ Ragusa, Modica, Scili u Pozzallo.

Apparti li containers waqgħu qieshom kaxxi tas-sulfarini, taħt l-effett tat-tromba, ċ-ċimi fuq in-naħa tal-poppa tal-vapur inqatgħu u għal xi ħin il-vapur kien miżmum kemm kemm viċin il-moll bl-irbit min-naħa tal-pruwa. Fortunatament laħqu malajr fuq il-post il-laneċ tal-irmonk li irrimedjaw is-sitwazzjoni u b’hekk ġie evitat inċident iktar gravi.

Fi snin oħra kien hemm inċidenti simili. Taħt l-effett ta’ riħ qawwi (forza 8 u forza 9) u baħar imqalleb sewwa, iċ-ċimi ta’ vapuri fil-Port Ħieles mhux l-ewwel darba li ġibdu l-bollards minn ġol-moll. Dan mhux inċident ta’ darba kull tant.  Meta jseħħu dawn l-inċidenti jokkupaw numru ta’ laneċ tal-irmiġġ sakemm il-vapur jerġa’ jkun sigur billi jintrabat mal-moll. Jekk il-laneċ tal-irmonk ikunu okkupati fuq xogħol ieħor il-konsegwenzi ta’ inċident fejn vapur jinqala’ minn mal-moll jistgħu jkunu iktar gravi: dan għax eventwalment jinqata’ l-irbit kollu u l-vapur jitħalla fil-baħar għal riħu, fejn laqat laqat.

Meta jkun hemm it-tanker tal-gass (floating gas storage facility) permanentement fil-Port ta’ Marsaxlokk dan ikun madwar 700 metru biss il-bogħod minn vapur li jinqata’ minn mal-moll. Meta tqis li li l-parti l-kbira tal-vapuri fil-Port Ħieles għandhom tul ta’ madwar 400 metru hu ċar li mhux impossibli li jkollna inċident ta’ gravita kbira.

Għalhekk kien meħtieġ studju marittimu qabel ma tittieħed deċiżjoni li l-Power Station taqleb għal gass. Studju bħal dan mhux biss jidentifika l-problemi, jidentifika ukoll is-soluzzjonijiet. Biex studju bħal dan isir jieħu l-ħin u spejjes mhux żgħar. Dan apparti ż-żmien u l-ispejjes neċessarji biex ikunu attwati s-soluzzjonijiet.

Dan mhux babaw li jbeżża’ imma serjeta’ li kienet nieqsa fl-ippjanar tal-introduzzjoni tal-gass fil-Power Station ta’ Delimara.

Is-serjeta’ ma tbeżżax. Tmexxina l-quddiem. Hi l-injoranza biss li tinqeda bil-babaw.

Imbagħad forsi għalhekk diġa għaddew iktar minn sena u nofs u għadu ma sar kważi xejn dwar il-gass. Tgħid hemm min forsi fetaħ għajnejħ?

 

Il-MEPA………….għaġġelija

kittens

 

Il-laqgħa tal-bieraħ li fiha l-Bord tal-MEPA approva l-applikazzjoni tal-Enemalta għall-ġenerazzjoni tal-elettriku bil-gass b’9 voti kontra 2 kienet waħda ġeneralment ċivili. Anke meta kien hemm xi interruzzjonijiet, ma kien hemm xejn gravi.

Ħadd ma argumenta kontra l-użu tal-gass. L-uġiegħ ta’ ras hi l-ħażna tal-gass: jekk din għandhiex tkun ġol-port jew barra mill-port.

L-istudju dwar ir-riskji marittimi għadu ma sarx. Meta jsir inkunu nafu ftit aħjar dak li ser inħabbtu wiċċna miegħu. Hemm mumenti meta l-ebda vapur m’hu safe fil-port. X’ser jiġri f’dawn il-mumenti?

Diversi sajjieda qalulna li l-qawwa tal-baħar tista’ tkun waħda sostanzjali. Ħaġa li nistgħu naraw b’għajnejna meta l-elementi jkunu fl-aqwa tagħhom.

Il-breakwater fid-daħla tal-Port ta’ Marsaxlokk ġie diżinjat mit-team Ċiniż f’Kalafrana. Id-diżinn hu ibbażat fuq osservazzjonijiet u studji dwar il-mewġ. A bażi ta’ standards internazzjonali u studji u testijiet fuq mudelli kien konkluż diżinn li jilqa’ għal mewġ ta’ 8.50 metri. Il-breakwater inbena fil-bidu tas-snin tmenin, tletin sena ilu. Matul dawn it-tletin sena qeda lill-pajjiż u lill-Port Ħieles.

Imma issa t-temp beda jinbidel, bil-mod. Fil-waqt li mewġ għola minn 8.50 metri sa ftit snin ilu kien xi ħaġa rari, issa beda jżid ftit fil-frekwenza. Dan ifisser li qed joqrob iż-żmien meta l-breakwater m’hux ser joffri protezzjoni biżżejjed la lill-Port Ħieles u l-anqas lill-Oil Tanking. Dak li kien rari, jista’ jsir iktar frekwenti. Il-konsegwenzi jistgħu jkunu gravi. Iżidu r-riskju ta’ inċident fil-Port ta’ Marsaxlokk.

Studju dwar ir-riskji marittimi kien jeżamina dan u iktar u kien ikun ta’ għajnuna ikbar biex il-Bord tal-MEPA jiżen sewwa r-riskji.   Dan l-istudju il-MEPA m’għamltux minkejja li fit-terms of reference dwar l-istudju ambjentali kienet hi stess li insistiet li l-istudju dwar ir-riskji għall-impjant tal-gass kellu jkun wieħed dettaljat.

Imma l-MEPA kienet mgħaġġla. Bħall-qattusa tal-proverbju.

ippubblikat fuq iNews: it-Tlieta 25 t’Ottubru 2014

Better safe than sorry

Delimara floating gas stirage terminal

Its been twelve months since Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party pointed out that safety and risk assessment will be the sticking point for the liquid natural gas (LNG) driven power station at Delimara. We were then told  that Labour’s plan had already factored in all issues pertaining to the Seveso Directive.

Well, plans have been changed. What were originally plans to have land based LNG storage facilities have been changed to a floating gas storage facility. The issue of safety has however remained. It was unaddressed then and is still not addressed now.

Other countries have taken the matter quite seriously. In Livorno, for example,  as a result of proper risk assessment studies a floating gas storage facility of a size comparable to that being considered for Delimara was sited 22.5 kilometres from the coastline. In addition a security area of an 8 kilometre radius was established. This security area which is under strict control to ensure that no unauthorised access occurs serves the purpose of reducing and containing the damage caused by a possible incident.

published in The Times of Malta, Saturday February 22, 2014

No such security areas have been established in the Delimara proposal such that whilst the probability of an incident has been identified as 1 in 10,000 years its impacts on the residential community as well on economic facilities could be devastating if such an accident occurs.

A thorough reading of the risk assessment study carried out by Roberto Vaccari and forming part of the Environment Impact Assessment for the Delimara LNG driven power station clearly identifies serious risks. Whilst Vaccari defines his study as being of a preliminary nature his conclusions, however, are clear enough pointers that the apprehension of 91% of the local population documented in the Delimara project Social Impact Assessment is more than justified.

Roberto Vaccari, for example, concludes on the possibility of an incident as a result of which a cloud of gas accumulates in the area in front of the Freeport Terminal, the fairway,  precisely where ships manoeuvre prior to their berthing to unload their shipment of containers. Just this possibility, on its own, should have been sufficient to lead to the conclusion that the proposed solution for the generation of electricity through the use of gas stored on a ship is a serious threat to the secure operation of the Freeport Terminal.

Roberto Vaccari justifiably points out that Marsaxlokk Bay, very close to the residential communities of Birżebbuġa and Marsaxlokk,  already harbours most of the Maltese sites subject to Major Hazard Regulatory control under the provisions if the EU Seveso Directive. The Delimara Power Station itself, the Birżebbuġa fuel storage depot, Oil Tanking facilities, the Wied Dalam installation, the Mediterranean Offshore Bunkering and the San Lucian facilities as well as the recent addition of the Gasco facilities at Bengħajsa are too close for comfort. Roberto Vaccari points out to the domino effect potential which could be triggered on each of these sites by an LNG incident at Delimara.

The mooring of the floating gas storage unit along the Delimara coast also gives rise to a serious conflict with existing uses in Marsaxlokk Bay. It conflicts with the operational requirements of the Freeport Terminal situated at the entrance to the Bay. The conflicts are of a navigational nature as the area currently utilised by container vessels to manoeuvre until they berth, the fairway, overlaps with the navigational requirements of the floating gas storage unit in particular during refuelling. It is known that container vessels at the Freeport Terminal do require tugboat assistance particularly when strong North-Easterly winds are prevalent. The navigational requirements in such circumstances for an increased activity require much more space (and tugboats) than is available in Marsaxlokk Bay. As far as is known this has not yet been considered.

Both the authorities as well as the EIA have also been particularly silent on the impacts which the floating gas storage unit will have on the fishing community in Marsaxlokk. It is unofficially known that plans are in hand to severely curtail all maritime movements within Marsaxlokk Bay during refuelling of the floating gas storage unit. The refuelling process which may take up to 48 hours  ten times annually will be a severe handicap not just on the operations of the Freeport Terminal but it may also deal a fatal blow to the livelihood of the fishing community at Marsaxlokk.

All of the above should have led to the conclusion that the unloading and storage of LNG at Marsaxlokk Port is an unnecessary source of danger to both residents and the country’s economy.

Malta is still in time to seriously explore other options. Ignoring political pique the only practical solution is to utilise a gas pipeline which a PN led Government had unfortunately refused when offered by Italy in 1999.

What is sure is that safety is priceless. It is better to be safe than sorry.