Soothing nonsense from Electrogas
Electrogas on Monday sought to reassure the public by issuing a statement saying that the storm that hit the Maltese islands over the weekend – strong winds and rough seas – did not cause any problem to the LNG tanker, which “remained at all times moored safely with no incident or risk exposure whatsoever”. The FSU was in the process of fine tuning the spread mooring chains assisted by four tugs from time to time, and did not have to cease this work. During the full period of the storm, the FSU rolled by a couple of degrees due to swell and held its position comfortably, it added.
Let us give this statement a benevolent sheen. This statement must have been either written by someone with no knowledge of winds, sea currents and the simple geography of Malta or by someone out to hoodwink the public. For, as everybody knows, last weekend’s storm was a Grigalata which usually affects the East coast of Malta from St Paul’s Bay to St Julian’s to Sliema to Marsamxett Harbour.
The Grigalata never affects Marsaxlokk Bay and nearby bays. One remembers 1989 and the BushGorbachev summit with a Grigalata that was even worse than last weekend’s. In fact, the summit meeting was held on the Russian warship Maxim Gorky which was anchored safely in Marsaxlokk Bay.
So when Electrogas hurried to issue a statement that said the storm had not affected the tanker one can say that either it does not know the basic facts about weather patterns in Marsaxlokk Bay or else that it tried to fob off the public with an illusionary statement.
If it is a question of simple ignorance or ignorance of public relations that is grave enough in itself. But if it was an attempt to reassure the public with a statement it knew was out of place, then this is really serious.
The public at large is already very alarmed, rightly or wrongly, about this experiment with a tanker anchored in the bay which will be regularly replenished by secondary tankers; about the dangers that LNG gas poses in case of an accident, and thus is extremely worried about the possibility of storms in the bay.
Electrogas has not endeared itself to the people of Malta first of all by dedicating an old tanker past its normal life for this task, then by gaps in information as we awaited its arrival.
Since then, it has tried to reassure the public about the safety features of the tanker. With this inopportune statement it risks losing the people’s trust even before the beginning of the operations.
Even at this juncture, the country is still awaiting more reassuring information. It was a struggle just to get the government to publish the terms of the contract. We the people still do not know anything about the safety regulations that will be in place, one hopes, when the operations begin. Nor do people know if, at all, there is an evacuation plan.
To issue a statement, with the best of intentions, that makes such a fundamental mistake about the weather, undermines all efforts to establish trust.