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

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Ħtieġa ta’ kalma u attenzjoni

 Gas Cloud Freeport Fairway

Madwar il-Bajja ta’ Marsaxlokk diġa hemm attivita’ diversa li hi ta’ riskju.

Matul din l-aħħar sena għadu kif għalaq l-impjant tal-gass tal-Enemalta fil-Qajjenza. Impjant li kien imdawwar b’residenzi għal snin twal. L-impjant ingħalaq u sar wieħed ġdid f’Bengħajsa u dan wara snin kbar ta’ ilmenti.

Ġo nofs Birżebbuġa hemm l-impjant tal-fuel tal-Enemalta. Ilu hemm snin kbar. Imdawwar bir-residenzi. L-Enemalta ilha s-snin tħabbel rasha biex tagħlaq dan l-impjant. Imma s’issa għadu hemm qalb in-nies.

Hemm ukoll il-ħażna tal-fuel f’San Luċjan bejn Birżebbuġa u Marsaxlokk w il-ħażna taż-żjut fil-kumpless tal-Freeport, l-Oil Tanking.

Dawn ir-riskji diġa qegħdin hawn u dan flimkien mal-ħażna tal-fuel (HFO u gasoil) presentement użat mill-Enemalta f’Delimara.

L-istudji li diġa saru dwar l-impjant tal-gass f’Delimara jinkludu studju minn Roberto Vaccari li għalkemm huwa studju preliminari diġa juri numru ta’ diffikultajiet u riskji ġodda li l-ħażna tal-gass tista’ toħloq. Riskji li meta tieħu in konsiderazzjoni r-riskji li diġa hawn fil-Bajja ta’ Marsaxlokk ikomplu jagħmlu is-sitwazzjoni agħar milli diġa hi.

Huma riskji li pajjiżi oħra sabu tarf tagħhom billi madwar is-sors ta’ riskji joħolqu żona li fiha l-aċċess ikun wieħed limitat u ikkontrollat. Il-ħolqien ta’ żona bħal din issolvi l-problema: ma teliminax ir-riskju imma tnaqqas sostanzjalment l-impatt tiegħu.

Id-diffikulta f’Delimara hi li l-ispazju li hemm hu limitat u ma jidhirx li hu possibli li tinħoloq din iż-żona b’aċċess  limitat u kkontrollat. Għalhekk il-proposta tal-ħażna tal-gass hi waħda problematika.

Li l-Gvern jgħid illi ser jagħmel iktar studji biex jipprova jsib tarf tal-problema hu pass tajjeb.  Irridu nħarsu iktar fil-fond mhux biss lejn l-impjant propost f’Delimara, imma ukoll lejn l-impatt fuq is-sajjieda, fuq il-komunitajiet ta’ Marsaxlokk u Birżebbuga kif ukoll fuq il-Port Ħieles.

Ir-riskju li jkun hemm inċident hu wieħed żgħir u rari. Imma l-konsegwenzi jekk iseħħ l-inċident ikunu kbar ħafna. Għalhekk jeħtieg li nimxu b’kalma u b’attenzjoni kbira.

ippubblikat fuq iNews : it-Tlieta 25 ta’ Frar 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.

Aħjar uff inkella aħħ

Gas Cloud Freeport Fairway

Bħal daż-żmien sena, waqt il-kampanja elettorali, Alternattiva Demokratika kienet ċara ħafna dwar il-proposta tal-Partit Laburista li jgħaddi biex jipproduċi l-elettriku bl-użu tal-gass. Għidna li l-kwalita’ tal-arja ser titjieb sostanzjalment kif ukoll li tista’ traħħas il-kontijiet tal-elettriku u l-ilma.

Imma għidna ukoll anke tnax-il xahar ilu illi ma kienx ċar x’kien qed jiġi propost dwar ir-riskji li l-ħażna ta’ kwantita’ kbira ta’ gass daqshekk qrib kemm tal-power station innifisha kif ukoll viċin l-abitat u viċin ħafna ta’ operazzjonijiet marittimi.

Alternattiva Demokratika rat l-istudju dwar l-impatti ambjentali (EIA) u in partikolari l-istudju ta’ Roberto Vaccari dwar l-analiżi tar-riskji  liema studju jifforma parti integrali mill-imsemmi EIA.

L-istudju dwar ir-riskji huwa inkonklużiv minħabba illi fil-waqt li jagħmel analiżi ma jwassalx din l-analiżi għal konklużjoni loġika tagħha, in partikolari kif b’mod prattiku l-impjant li jiġġenera l-elettriku bil-gass għandu impatt fuq l-attivitajiet l-oħra li presentement hemm fil-Port ta’ Marsaxlokk.

Vaccari per eżempju jikkonkludi dwar il-possibilita’ ta’ inċident li bħala riżultat tiegħu joħroġ kwantita’ kbira ta’ gass illi s-sħaba (ta’ gass) riżultanti  takkumula fl-area quddiem il-Port Ħieles u preċiżament fil-fairway, l-area fejn jimmanuvraw il-vapuri qabel ma jidħlu jħottu t-tagħbija tal-containers. (ara pjanta hawn fuq) Din biss kellha twassal għal konklużjoni li s-soluzzjoni proposta għall-impjant tal-enerġija li jaħdem bil-ġass  maħżun fuq vapur hi theddida kbira għas-sigurta’ tal-operazzjoni tal-Port Ħieles.

Pajjiżi oħra joħolqu żona ta’ sigurta madwar l-impjant b’mod illi jiżolaw il-possibilita’ ta’ periklu u ma jħalluħx jinfirex. B’hekk inaqqsu l-impatt fuq il-ħajja tan-nies u fuq il-propjeta’ u jimminimizzaw il-ħsara ekonomika li tista’ tirriżulta. Hekk għamel per eżempju l-Gvern Reġjonali tat-Toscana barra l-Port ta’ Livorno meta stabilixxa żona ta’ sigurta f’distanza ta’ tmien kilometri madwar il-ħażna tal-gass fuq vapur li ġie ankrat 22.5 kilomteri l-barra mill-kosta.

Bl-iskuża li r-rapport tal-analiżi tar-riskju hu wieħed preliminari r-rapport ta’ Vaccari ma jagħmel xejn minn dan. Filwaqt li jsemmi l-possibilita ta’ impatt fuq stallazzjonijiet oħra fil-port ta’ Marsaxlokk (domino effect) la Vaccari u l-anqas l-EIA ma janalizzax kif  dan jista’ jseħħ.

Filwaqt li hu magħruf illi l-movimenti maritiimi fil-Port ta’ Marsaxlokk ikollhom jonqsu drastikament, inkluż il-movimenti mis-sajjieda l-EIA hu sieket dwar dan.

Dan kollu kellu jwassal  għal rakkomandazzjoni li s-soluzzjoni tal-ħatt u ħażna tal-gass fil-Port ta’ Marsaxlokk huma ta’ periklu kemm għar-residenti kif ukoll għall-ekonomija tal-pajjiż.

Pajjiżna għadu fil-ħin biex jimxi lejn soluzzjonijiet oħra. Lil hinn mill-piki politiċi l-unika soluzzjoni prattika hi dik ta’ pipeline li dwaru l-Gvern kien sfortunatament irrifjuta offerta mill-Italja fl-1999.

Li hu żgur hu li ħajjet in-nies hi imprezzabbli.

Aħjar uff inkella aħħ.

Bomba tal-ħin f’Delimara

bomb
Il-proposta ta’ Power Station f’Delimara li taħdem bil-gass flok bil-Heavy Fuel Oil ser twassal għal titjib fil-kwalita’ tal-arja f’Marsaxlokk, Birżebbuga u l-inħawi tal-madwar. Imma huwa ukoll ċar li l-preokkupazzjoni tar-residenti kif espressa fl-istudju dwar l-impatti soċjali għadha m’hiex qed tiġi indirizzata b’mod adegwat. L-istudju dwar ir-riskji mill-gass maħzun fil-Bajja ta’ Marsaxlokk m’huwiex wieħed konvinċenti.

Huwa neċessarju, anzi huwa essenzjali, li l-ħażna tal-gass għall-użu tal-Power Station tinħareg il-barra mill-Bajja ta’ Marsaxlokk.

Alternattiva Demokratika hi konxja li s-soluzzjonijiet tekniċi neċessarji jirrikjedu kemm iż-żmien kif ukoll spejjeż addizzjonali sostanzjali. Huwa importanti għaldaqstant li titwarrab l-għaġġla żejda biex ikunu jistgħu jsiru dawk l-istudji addizzjonali li huma neċessarji biex ma jibqa’ l-ebda dubju li r-riskji kollha li għalihom il-komunitajiet ta’ Marsaxlokk u Birżebbuġa ġew esposti jkunu indirizzati b’mod sodisfaċenti.

Alternattiva Demokratika hi konsistenti. Dan il-kliem qalitu diversi drabi, anke waqt il-kampanja elettorali tal-elezzjoni ta’ Marzu 2013 wara li l-Partit Laburista ħareġ bil-proposti tiegħu li, dakinnhar, kienu nieqsa minn informazzjoni essenzjali.

Is-saħħa u is-sigurta tar-residenti ta’ Marsaxlokk u Birżebbuga għandhom jiġu qabel kull konsiderazzjoni oħra.

Il-kunsens nazzjonali dwar il-ħtieġa tal-użu tal-gass fil-ġenerazzjoni tal-elettriku għandu jitwettaq f’rispett sħiħ lejn ir-residenti. Jekk dan ma jsirx jista’ jwassal biex fil-Bajja ta’ Marsaxlokk tkun istallata bomba tal-ħin.

Il-gass għal Delimara: nħarsu s-saħħa u s-sigurta tar-residenti

Delimara.gas terminal

Il-ħidma biex il-ġenerazzjoni tal-elettriku ma tibqax bl-użu ta’ żejt li jħammeġ (Heavy Fuel Oil) iżda bil-gass, minn dejjem kienet appoġġjata minn-Alternattiva Demokratika.

Kwalita’ aħjar tal-arja u traħħis fil-kontijiet tad-dawl u l-ilma huma l-konsegwenzi diretti ta’ dan il-pass.

F’dawn il-ġranet għaddejja d-diskussjoni dwar l-istudju fuq l-impatt ambjentali ta’ dan il-proġett. Hemm qbil ġenerali fuq ħafna mill-kontenut ta’ dan l-istudju.

Mill-istudju dwar l-impatt soċjali tal-power station bil-gass iżda, toħroġ b’mod ċar il-preokkupazzjoni tar-residenti ta’ Marsaxlokk għall-ħażna tal-ġass fuq opra tal-baħar speċjalizzata (floating gas storage facility). Huwa stmat li 91% tar-residenti ta’ Marsaxlokk ma jaqblux li l-gass għall-użu tal-power station jinħażen ġol-Bajja ta’ Marsaxlokk.

L-istudju ippreżentat dwar ir-riskju li l-ħażna tal-gass fil-Bajja ta’ Marsaxlokk, biswit il-power station u faċċata r-raħal ta’ Marsaxlokk, ma jikkonvinċi lil ħadd. In-nies m’hiex konvinta illi r-riskju għal saħħithom, għal ħajjithom u għall-propjeta’ tagħhom hu wieħed minimu. Mhux konvinti li r-riskju hu wieħed minimu. Mhux konvinti li r-riskju hu aċċettabbli.

Kien għalhekk f’waqtu dak li qal il-koordinatur tal-EIA li ser isir studju iktar approfondit tar-riskji involuti. Huwa tajjeb li ser isir dan l-istudju addizzjonali imma hu meħtieġ ukoll illi ma jittieħdux deċiżjonijiet mgħaġġla  qabel ma jkun konkluż dan l-istudju.  Għax sakemm ma jkunx konkluż studju konvinċenti, l-anqas temporanjament m’hu aċċettabbli li l-ħażna tal-gass għall-użu tal-power station tkun ġol-Bajja ta’ M’Xlokk.

Waqt il-konsultazzjoni pubblika ta’ nhar it-Tnejn intqal illi l-Enemalta m’għandiex flus għal soluzzjonijiet oħra, li jiswew ferm iktar kif ukoll li jieħdu iktar żmien biex jitwettqu.

Il-ħarsien tas-saħħa u l-ħajja tar-residenti ta’ M’Xlokk u Birżebbuġa kif ukoll is-sigurta’ tagħhom u ta’ ħwejjiġhom huma importanti iktar minn kollox, inkluz mill-flus li jkun meħtieġ illi jintefqu għall-proġett. Nittama biss li qabel ma jittieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet ikollna f’idejna l-studju li jgħarbel sewwa r-riskji u dan biex ħadd ma jibqagħlu iktar dubji.

Alternattiva Demokratika ilha żmien tgħid li din hi d-diffikulta unika u reali tal-proġett tal-Power Station f’Delimara li jaħdem bil-gass. Is-saħħa u s-sigurta’ tar-residenti jiġu qabel kollox.

ippubblikata fuq iNews l-Erbgħa 29 ta’ Jannar 2014

Snippets from AD’s electoral manifesto: (12) The Role of the Community

sos hondoq

The following extract is taken verbatim from Chapter 14 of AD’s Electoral Manifesto

The Role of the Community.
Various controversies have arisen on the impacts of large projects on the community. Reference is being made for example to the Sant’ Antnin Waste Recycling Plant, the touristic development at Ħondoq ir-Rummien, the extension of the Delimara Power Station, the extension of the Freeport and the mega projects referred to as the MIDI and the Fort Cambridge projects at Tigne Sliema.
In each of the above mentioned examples the community spoke up both directly as well as through civil society. In such cases AD is proposing that after the responsible authority would have processed the development application the community should have the right to express its opinion as to whether the project should proceed. This will be carried out through a local referendum called after a pre-identified number of registered voters make a request in line with the requirements of legislation or else through a call made by the Local Council on behalf of the community.
A project shall be submitted for the community’s consideration in a referendum after all the relative studies would have been concluded as well after the said studies would have been available for a reasonable time for all those wishing to peruse them.
However in the case of infrastructural projects of national importance it shall be possible for Parliament (which represents the whole community at a national level) to intervene and take a final decision after ascertaining that the objections of the local community have been addressed.

L-Estratt segwenti hu mehud kelma b’kelma mill-Kapitlu 14 tal-Manifest Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

Rwol tal-Komunità.
Diversi kontroversji jqumu dwar l-impatti fuq il-komunità ta’ proġetti kbar bħal dak tal-Impjant tar-Riċiklaġġ tal-Iskart f’Sant Antnin, tal-iżvilupp turistiku f’Ħondoq ir-Rummien, l-estensjoni tal-Power Station f’Delimara, l-estensjoni tal-Port Ħieles jew il-megaproġetti magħrufa bħala l-proġetti tal-MIDI u ta’ Fort Cambridge f’Tigné, Tas-Sliema.
F’kull wieħed minn dawn il-każijiet il-komunità semmgħet leħinha kontra dawn il-proġetti kemm direttament kif ukoll permezz tas-soċjetà ċivili. F’każijiet ta’ din ix-xorta AD qed tipproponi li wara li l-awtorità responsabbli tkun ipproċessat applikazzjoni għal proġett ta’ żvilupp, il-komunità għandu jkollha d-dritt tesprimi ruħa dwar jekk il-proġett jipproċedix, u dan permezz ta’ referendum lokali li jissejjaħ wara li jinġabru l-firem tar-residenti skond il-liġi, inkella b’talba tal-Kunsill Lokali f’isem il-komunità.
Proġett għandu jiġi ppreżentat għal deċizjoni popolari wara li jkunu ġew konklużi l-istudji kollha relattivi kif ukoll wara li l-istess studji jkunu aċċessibli għal żmien raġjonevoli għal kull min ikun irid jaqrahom. F’każ ta’ proġetti infrastrutturali u ta’ importanza nazzjonali għandu jkun possibli għall-Parlament (li jirrappreżenta lill-komunità fuq livell nazzjonali) illi wara li jassigura ruħu illi l-ilmenti tal-komunità lokali jkunu indirizzati, jintervjeni u jieħu deċiżjoni finali.

Past mistakes, present-day decisions

by Carmel Cacopardo

published on Saturday June 12, 2010

___________________________________________________________________________________

“Our environment is too small to afford to suffer any more mistakes than we have already committed in the past, sometimes even in the name of tourism and progress.” This was not stated by AD chairman Michael Briguglio but by Parliamentary Secretary Mario de Marco with reference to the pending Ħondoq ir-Rummien Mepa application (The Sunday Times, May 30).

In considering large projects for development permission, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority is not considering environmental and social impacts adequately, opting instead to focus on perceived short-term economic gains. Unfortunately, the paths leading to decisions are guided by experts who should know better.

Some time ago, Mepa approved the extension of the Malta Freeport. In the process, it ignored that such an extension gobbled up the existing buffer zone established way back in 1995. The end result will be a Freeport operating area that is much closer to the Birżebbuġa residential area. The Freeport as it is operating already severely impacts the daily lives of the Birżebbuġa residents. Making things worse will only raise tensions and the loss of at least part of the accumulated social capital of the locality. No amount of mitigation will ever restore what is being lost with Mepa’s blessings.

In deciding on the matter, Mepa has been misguided by an EIA process, which, being financed by the developer, had an interest to shift attention on the over-emphasised perceived economic gains, simultaneously downplaying social and environmental impacts.

The Ħondoq ir-Rummien project seems to be the next issue which further highlights the developing tensions between the residential community and those interested in making a fast buck. The proposal, which involves substantial rock excavation, aims to develop a 170-room hotel, 25 villas, 60 self-catering apartments, 200 residences, parking space and a 150-berth yacht marina.

This proposed development will squeeze out the current uses at Ħondoq ir-Rummien. It will conflict with the public recreational uses the Gozitans and Maltese alike make of the area.

Jeremy Boissevain, in a report commissioned by the Qala local council, has highlighted that the massive scale of the project will practically double the Qala population. The local community has not accepted the proposed intrusion into their lives, which the proposed project suggests. As evidenced by the local referendum held in Qala some years back, the community does not consider the economic aspect on its own. Rather, it should be weighed and compared to the environmental and social impacts it will necessarily generate.

The social and environmental externalities of the project are being repeatedly downplayed by those who want to cash in on the economic benefits such a project will undoubtedly generate for the few. After having cashed in the benefits of property speculation aimed at a 70 per cent foreigner occupancy target, they will then leave the community to carry the burdens and pay the costs, deprived of basic facilities which, to date, have been much used by the public.

Mepa has yet to decide on this project and there is no way of knowing the direction such a decision would take. It is however logical to assume that the line of reasoning the current Mepa board has applied in other cases is of relevance. Hence, the validity of Dr de Marco’s warning on the need to ensure that past mistakes are not repeated, not even on behalf of  “tourism and progress”.

The government is aware that, to date, it has given conflicting signals. Very late in the day, it is realising that it cannot run with the proverbial hares while simultaneously hunting with the hounds. The current state of affairs is the direct result of the ambivalent attitude to environmental issues by politicians from the major parties which have developed the skill of quickly switching mode depending on their audience.

The causes are various.

AD is on record as pointing to two immediate solutions: firstly regulating the funding of political parties and, secondly, for the government to share with the community the process of appointing the Mepa decision-makers, by having the appointees subjected to a public hearing prior to their being appointed.

The major political parties are hostage to the construction industry. This is also evident by the reluctance of Parliament to legislate on party political funding. The parliamentary select committee appointed two years ago has, to date, been ineffective in this respect. Likewise, the Mepa reform process will result in a wasted opportunity, as while it will tinker with a number of issues, it will retain the most essential matters requiring reform untouched.

It is one thing to speak on past mistakes and quite another to move up the learning curve. Past mistakes will most probably be reflected in present-day decisions. At least for the time being.

I hope that I will be proven wrong.

original at Times of Malta website

St John’s Beheaded ?

25 October 2008

by Carmel Cacopardo

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The ongoing debate of where to house exhibits related to St John’s Co-Cathedral at times appeared to be getting out of hand. Contrary to what some would have us believe, it is an issue which should not be left exclusively to the experts! St John’s belongs to the nation.

The fact that it is the subject of a public debate is healthy and we should thank the NGOs Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar and Friends of the Earth for having had the foresight to understand that bringing up the matter in the public domain would encourage the search for and the analysis of alternative solutions.

St John’s Co-Cathedral is not just a place of worship. It is also a museum and, indirectly, a money spinner. The monies generated from those visiting pay for its upkeep. Placing more exhibits on view would make St John’s Museum more attractive to tourists. It will also, however, make the provision of a decent space for the exhibits a necessity. So runs the thinking of the foundation in charge of St John’s.

So the proposal is to consider the manner in which additional exhibition space is to be provided. One such idea was to roof over the knights’ graveyard, bordering Merchants’ Street and reconstructed as part of War Damage. Since St John’s Co-Cathedral complex is a scheduled Grade 1 monument in its entirety this proposal is clearly out of the question: Grade 1 monuments are untouchable!

A second proposal is to excavate below St John’s Square and below parts of St John’s Street and Merchants’ Street, Valletta.

Even if one were to (temporarily) set aside the issue of dust and quantities of excavated rock resulting from such works, a matter which merits consideration is that the proposal to excavate would possibly damage the underground tunnels housing Valletta’s sewers, which tunnels meander below Valletta’s streets. Having, as a civil engineer in the then Drainage Section of the Works Department in the early 1980s, walked through most of these tunnels I clearly recollect that they have a varying width and do not run in straight lines but approximately in diagonals below most of Valletta streets. This would not necessarily show up in the available drawings and would require verification through a detailed survey. The proposed excavation would thus mean that these tunnels, a 450-year old civil engineering feat, could be damaged.

This would consequently exclude from consideration most of the areas earmarked for excavation leaving available just two options: the utilisation of existing vacant properties in the vicinity or else limiting access in the same manner as is being done in the case of the Ħal-Saflieni Temples.

I am pointing this out of concern as there seems to be an underlying interest to create an artificial barrier between those in favour and those against the foundation’s proposals. In reality, it should not be an issue of being in favour or against but in seeking the best way forward in the interests of a better protection and appreciation of our heritage.

The matter will be subject to an environmental impact assessment (EIA) whose terms of reference are being drafted.

It may be worth pointing out that in the short time that EIAs have been carried out in Malta (as far as I am aware) there has not been one instance where the assessors have been critical of a project such that it was abandoned or subjected to substantial modification. This, in my view, is the result of the manner in which members of the EIA team are appointed.

The responsibility of Mepa in vetting the appointment of the EIA team by the St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation is enormous. The public needs to be assured that the EIA exercise will not be one of trying to justify the foundation’s proposal. There have been too many instances where an EIA in Malta was effectively used or perceived to have been used for this purpose – the flawed site selection exercise relative to the Sant’Antnin waste management plant at Marsascala being one of the most notable examples. In that instance, serious deficiencies in the site selection exercise were ignored, thereby fuelling opposition to a project which, if properly assessed, could have led to different conclusions as well as universal acceptance.

I am purposely limiting myself to the above issues. There are others related to the running costs of providing an adequate internal environment for the exhibits.

It is obvious that this could be much more costly if an underground space is excavated then if a built-up space above ground level is utilised.

Protecting our heritage includes speaking up whenever necessary. Let the discussion continue until all the difficulties raised have been examined. Only then can a reasonable solution be considered but not a beheading!

Ġirien Nukleari

minn Carmel Cacopardo

ipubblikat 27 ta’ Lulju 2008

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Fi Franza fi spazju ta’ 16-il jum seħħew tliet inċidenti nukleari.

L-ewwel inċident seħħ fil-lejl bejn is-6 u s-7 ta’ Lulju fis-sit nukleari ta’ Tricastin. Skart likwidu, madwar 30,000 litru li kien fih l-uranju, b’mod aċċidentali waqa’ f’żewġ xmajjar. L-awtoritajiet Franċiżi ħarġu struzzjonijiet lir-residenti biex ħadd ma jistad, ħadd ma jixrob ilma mill-bjar, kif ukoll biex ħadd ma jgħum fix-xmajjar jew jieħu sehem fi sports fl-ilma. Lanqas ma kien possibbli li jintuża ilma mix-xmajjar għat-tisqija.

It-tieni inċident seħħ fl-impjant nukleari ta’ Romans-sur Isere meta nhar it-18 ta’ Lulju spetturi tas-sit indunaw b’pajp mifqugħ li minnu ħareġ likwidu radjuattiv. It-tielet inċident seħħ mill-ġdid fi Tricastin nhar it-23 ta’ Lulju. L-impjant kien magħluq imma partiċelli radjuattivi ħarġu minn pajp li nqasam fl-impjant nukleari u 97 impjegat spiċċaw l-isptar fejn instab li kienu esposti għal doża baxxa ta’ radjuattività.
Franza tipproduċi 80 fil-mija ta’ l-elettriku tagħha permezz ta’ enerġija nukleari f’59 impjant imxerrda mal-pajjiż kollu. Bħala riżultat ta’ din id-dipendenza fuq l-enerġija nukleari Franza għandha industrija organizzata u b’saħħitha. Il-Gvern Franċiż jgħinha biex tistabbilixxi swieq ġodda billi tesporta t-teknoloġija nukleari.

Fost l-aħħar swieq li qed ifittxu li jippenetraw hemm dak fl-Afrika ta’ Fuq. Franza iffirmat ftehim ta’ kooperazzjoni mal-Marokk, ma’ l-Alġerija u mal-Libja biex tgħinhom jiżviluppaw impjanti nukleari għal skopijiet ċivili. L-iktar li jinteressana hu l-ftehim mal-Libja li se jwasssal biex jinbena impjant nukleari li permezz tiegħu jkun prodott ilma tajjeb għax-xorb minn ilma baħar. Ovvjament, dan l-impjant se jinbena viċin il-kosta.

Inċident f’impjant nukleari jista’ jseħħ bħala riżultat ta’ waħda minn tliet affarijiet: żball uman, ħsara li tiżviluppa fil-makkinarju inkella bħala riżultat ta’ attività naturali bħal terremot.

Hemm żewġ konsiderazzjonijiet li rridu nagħmlu. L-ewwel li l-Libja għandha xemx kemm trid. Teżisti t-teknoloġija biex tipproduċi ilma tajjeb għax-xorb mill-baħar permezz ta’ enerġija solari. Din qed titħaddem f’pajjiżi bħall-Kuwajt. Qed isiru ukoll esperimenti għal titjib sostanzjali f’din it-teknoloġija fl-Iżrael u f’Kalifornja.

Xi ħtieġa hemm ta’ impjant nukleari meta hemm enerġija mix-xemx b’xejn?

It-tieni konsiderazzjoni hi dwar kif niġu affettwati aħna bħala Malta jekk ikun hemm inċident nukleari fl-impjant Libjan. L-effetti jkunu jiddependu mill-gravità ta’ l-inċident. Inċident li jikkontamina l-baħar jaffettwa kemm l-industrija tas-sajd kif ukoll il-produzzjoni ta’ l-ilma f’pajjiżna. Irridu niftakru li 60 fil-mija ta’ l-ilma li nużaw jiġi mill-baħar. Inċident f’impjant nukleari mal-kosta Libjana li jniġġes il-baħar jista’ jaffettwa dan l-ilma li f’Malta s’issa m’għandniex alternattiva għalih għax l-ilma tal-pjan qed jispiċċa wkoll. L-effetti fuq Malta jistgħu jkunu ta’ gravità kbira għax l-uniku sors ta’ l-ilma mbagħad ikun dak impurtat fit-tankers minn Sqallija jew minn x’imkien ieħor.

Il-makkinarju fl-impjanti għat-tisfija tad-drenaġġ li qed jinbnew bħalissa ma jistgħux iservu alternattiva minħabba li l-ilma wara li jsaffuh jitfgħuh il-baħar flok ma jipproduċu ilma tajjeb għax-xorb kif jagħmlu per eżempju f’Singapore.

Apparti dan imbagħad hemm l-effetti fuq l-industrija tat-turiżmu. Kull aħbar ta’ allarm ikollha effett negattiv u t-turiżmu jieħu daqqa kbira b’inċident nukleari daqstant qrib tagħna.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu l-Gvern Malti ma lissen l-ebda kelma. L-anqas l-Oppożizzjoni.
Dan mhux kollox. Il-periklu mhux ġej biss min-nofsinhar għax fit-tramuntana fl-Italja, beda jinħema periklu ieħor.

Il-Gvern ta’ Berlusconi ddikjara li fi ħsiebu jibda l-proċess biex jibni numru ta’ impjanti nukleari. Il-periklu għalina mill-Italja hu l-istess għall-periklu mil-Libja. Bid-differenza li l-iktar li jaffettwawna jkunu dawk l-impjanti li jinbew fin-naħa t’isfel ta’ l-Italja jew fi Sqallija.

Fil-konfront ta’ l-Italja hemm fattur wieħed li jista’ jkun ta’ għajnuna. Bħala riżultat tat-tisħib ta’ Malta fl-Unjoni Ewropea tapplika għalina l-Konvenzjoni ta’ Espoo, iffirmata fil-Finlandja fl-1991. Din hi inkorporata fid-Direttiva tal-UE dwar l-EIA (assessjar tal-impatt ambjentali) u tipprovdi li fejn ikun hemm possibbiltà ta’ impatt ambjentali li jmur lil hinn mill-fruntieri ta’ pajjiż terz (transboundary impact) hemm l-obbligu li l-pajjiż affettwat ikun notifikat kif ukoll li jkollu l-possibbiltà li jinvolvi ruħu biex ikun assigurat li l-EIA jsir sew.

X’miżuri ħa l-Ministeru ta’ l-Affarijiet Barranin f’dan ir-rigward? Ħadd għadu ma qal xejn minkejja d-dikjarazzjoni ta’ Claudio Scajola, Ministru Taljan għall-Iżvilupp Ekonomiku favur l-enerġija nukleari.
Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu u fid-dell ta’ theddid li jista’ jkun daqshekk kbir il-Gvern għandu l-obbligu li jinforma dwar x’qiegħed jagħmel. L-Oppożizzjoni wkoll għandha l-obbligu li tispjega għaliex baqgħet ħalqha magħluq.

 

ara ukoll : http://www.illum.com.mt/2008/07/27/t2.html