Sooth­ing non­sense from Elec­tro­gas

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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.

Ed­i­tor’s pick

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.

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