More people feel LNG tanker is safe than not
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