More peo­ple feel LNG tanker is safe than not

Malta Independent - - NEWS - ■ He­lena Grech

Just un­der half, at 49.7%, have no se­ri­ous safety con­cerns over the newly in­tro­duced LNG tanker in Marsaxlokk Bay, the Novem­ber edi­tion of the i Sur­vey com­mis­sioned by The Malta In­de­pen­dent shows.

Re­spon­dents were sim­ply asked: Do you have se­ri­ous safety con­cerns over the newly in­tro­duced LNG tanker in Marsaxlokk Bay?

Over­all, 38.2% of re­spon­dents said yes, 49.7% said no, 11.9% were un­sure and 0.1% re­fused to answer the question.

The Ar­mada LNG Mediter rana, the Float­ing Stor­age Unit com­mis­sioned to sup­ply the new De­li­mara Power Sta­tion with LNG, has been the cen­tre of much po­lit­i­cal con­tro­versy since its an­nounce­ment.

The gov­ern­ment backs its de­ci­sion with the ar­gu­ment that it will pro­vide cleaner energy than the use of Heavy Fuel Oil and pro­vide for more sta­ble, cheaper util­ity bills. Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat had said the tanker so­lu­tion will be used un­til Malta, through the use of EU funds, de­vel­oped a gas pipe­line link­ing it with Italy.

The change from Heavy Fuel Oil to gas will elim­i­nate “one mil­lion tonnes of par­tic­u­late mat­ter from the air,” said Dr Mus­cat while ad­dress­ing a po­lit­i­cal event in Marsaxlokk last year, adding that it would also re­duce energy tar­iffs.

The con­tro­ver­sial project, which was ap­proved by then-MEPA last year, had raised se­cu­rity con­cerns, with ex­perts warn­ing that a po­ten­tial gas leak could lead to a fire cloud that could reach as far as Marsaxlokk.

Dr Mus­cat had said that the Marsaxlokk res­i­dents were ac­tu­ally more con­cerned about the old power sta­tion in the lo­cal­ity, where, on a num­ber oc­ca­sion he has in­sisted on call­ing it a “can­cer fac­tory.”

The PN have long cited se­ri­ous safety con­cerns, quot­ing ex­perts who say that the tanker may be too close to the shore, and slammed the En­vi­ron­men­tal and Re­source Au­thor­ity for pro­vid­ing just 30 days for a con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod on the 15,000 page safety stud­ies and im­pact as­sess­ments on the tanker, con­ducted by a for­eign Dutch com­pany. The safety re­ports found that there was very lit­tle chance for a col­li­sion to take place and out­lined a num­ber of dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios and pos­si­ble out­comes.

Fol­low­ing calls by Op­po­si­tion leader Si­mon Busut­til to ex­tend the con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod, an­other 10 days were added. Shadow home af­fairs min­is­ter Beppe Fenech Adami pleaded with home af­fairs min­is­ter Carmelo Abela to put pres­sure and have the Emer­gency Evac­u­a­tion Plan set up and dis­trib­uted to Marsaxlokk res­i­dents.

When break­ing down the sta­tis­tics by spread of lo­cal­ity, it was found that the vast ma­jor­ity of those from the South­ern East­ern District, which would in­clude Marsaxlokk, have no se­ri­ous safety con­cerns about the tanker. In to­tal, 22.9% said they had se­ri­ous con­cerns, 67.6% said they had none and 6% said they could not de­cide.

Con­versely, as re­gards the North­ern Har­bour District, 44.4% have se­ri­ous safety con­cerns about the tanker, 45.6% do not while 10.1% could not say ei­ther way.

In view of the PL’s sup­port for the tanker, and the PN’s staunch op­po­si­tion cit­ing safety risks, and the fact that the SED is tra­di­tion­ally a PL strong­hold – as the NHD is tra­di­tion­ally a PN strong­hold, it would ap­pear that a pro­por­tion of peo­ple have drawn con­clu­sions about the project based on the party they are most af­fil­i­ated with. The NHD district with the high­est pro­por­tion of re­spon­dents who said they have se­ri­ous safety con­cerns, while the SED district had the high­est pro­por­tion of re­spon­dents who cited no se­ri­ous safety con­cerns.

PL and PN voter split

When break­ing down the data based on how peo­ple voted in the 2013 gen­eral elec­tion, it was found that:

Of PL vot­ers, 12.4% said they have se­ri­ous safety con­cerns about the tanker, 76.8% said they do not and a fur­ther 10.4% re­mained un­de­cided.

On the other hand, of PN vot­ers, 66.8% said they have se­ri­ous safety con­cerns about the tanker, 25.4% dis­agree, while 7.7% could not give an answer.

More PL vot­ers than PN vot­ers ap­pear to be un­de­cided about the project, with a dif­fer­ence of 2.7% points be­tween the two sides. In view of the rhetoric sur­round­ing the tanker by ei­ther main­stream po­lit­i­cal leader, the data pro­vided on PL and PN views on the is­sue come as no sur­prise.

When break­ing down the over­all fig­ures be­tween males and fe­males, it was found that 35.3% of males cited se­ri­ous safety con­cerns vs. the 41.5% of fe­males who came to the same con­clu­sion. There­fore, women are much more likely to feel con­cern over the tanker than men, while men are much surer that the tanker poses no se­ri­ous risk. A pro­por­tion of 56.1% chose ‘no’ when asked if they found the tanker to be a se­ri­ous safety con­cern, vs. the 43.3% of women who came to the same con­clu­sion.

Out of those who re­sponded ‘don’t know’, 8.6% were male against a pro­por­tion of 15.2% fe­males. Over­all, fe­males are much more divided on whether they view the tanker to be a se­ri­ous risk.

The Novem­ber 2016 i Sur­vey – the sixth of its kind – was com­mis­sioned to Busi­ness Lead­ers Malta on be­half of The Malta In­de­pen­dent. A to­tal of 600 re­spon­dents were used, rep­re­sen­ta­tive of age, gender and spread of lo­cal­i­ties. With such a sam­ple size, the mar­gin of er­ror is +/- 4%. More info from the i Sur­vey will con­tinue to emerge through­out this week.

The gov­ern­ment backs its de­ci­sion with the ar­gu­ment that it will pro­vide cleaner energy than the use of Heavy Fuel Oil and pro­vide for more sta­ble, cheaper util­ity bills

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