In­dus­try techno bab­ble sees pub­lic leave at con­sul­ta­tion

Malta Independent - - CALL FOR PRODUCTIVITY AND STABILITY FOR SUSTAINABL - Ju­lian Bon­nici

The pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion meet­ing re­gard­ing the Elec­tro­gas power sta­tion yes­ter­day saw around 250 peo­ple in at­ten­dance.

The meet­ing con­cerned the In­te­grated Pol­lu­tion Preven­tion and Con­trol and En­vi­ron­men­tal Im­pact As­sess­ment.

It opened with ERA CEO, Reuben Abela, mak­ing it clear that the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion did not ap­ply to the de­vel­op­ment of the project but rather the oper­a­tions and func­tions of the plant. The oper­a­tions chiefly en­tail the en­vi­ron­men­tal and safety mea­sures the project would use.

Dr Paul Gauci, who was next to speak, claimed that dur­ing the ini­tial im­pact as­sess­ment it was es­tab­lished that the ef­fects the in­tro­duc­tion of a gas pow­ered sta­tion in De­li­mara would gen­er­ally leave a min­i­mal im­pact on the sur­round­ing area namely the qual­ity of the sea water. The plant, he claimed, would be able to ben­e­fit air qual­ity how­ever it may have an ad­verse ef­fect on the ge­ol­ogy and ecol­ogy of the area.

In the case of a storm, the FSU would break from the break­wa­ter and use a sys­tem known as a spread an­chor, Dr Gauci said.

Fredrick Az­zopardi , the Chair­man of Ene­malta, spoke next and he as­sured the pub­lic that the in­tro­duc­tion of the nat­u­ral gas power sta­tion would al­low the coun­try to meet its en­ergy de­mands.

He said that the high­est max­i­mum elec­tri­cal gen­er­a­tion the coun­try has ever ex­pe­ri­enced is 438MW in 2015, whilst the cur­rent gen­er­a­tional ca­pac­ity is 579 MW.

The cur­rent elec­tri­cal grid in Malta means that the coun­try cur­rently re­lies heav­ily on the HFO and Ga­soil power plants. The coun­try would also con­tinue de­pend­ing on the Marsa Power Plant, which is cur­rently on cold­stand by, should the re­cently con­structed in­ter­con­nec­tor stop work­ing.

The in­ter­con­nec­tor, Az­zopardi claimed, meant that the coun­try's se­cu­rity of sup­ply would de­pend solely on one large sin­gle source whilst not pro­vid­ing the coun­try with a fea­si­ble fu­ture ca­pac­ity to meet in­creas­ing de­mands.

The de­vel­op­ment of the nat­u­ral gas power sta­tion would change this whilst also gen­er­at­ing cleaner en­ergy and pre­vent­ing

the large amount of toxic waste cur­rently dis­posed of, which cur­rently costs about €10 mil­lion per an­num. It would also al­low the com­plete clo­sure of the De­li­mara 1 power sta­tion and the Marsa power sta­tion (the area of which would be tar­geted for re­gen­er­a­tion). The de­vel­op­ment would al­low the coun­try to reach a max­i­mum ca­pac­ity of 664 MW.

Ar­chi­tect Peter Zam­mit, on be­half of Ene­malta, ad­dressed the safety stud­ies com­mis­sioned by the com­pany, namely the safety report, the safety man­age­ment sys­tem and an emer­gency re­sponse plan. This he said would en­sure that risks men­tioned in the risk as­sess­ment would be pre­vented.

He went on to say that con­tam­i­nated oily water from the fa­cil­ity could en­ter the sur­round­ing water is a pos­si­bil­ity. This went con­trary to pre­vi­ous state­ment by Dr Gauci dur­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion of the EIA.

Air­borne emis­sions would be re­duced since the coun­try would be us­ing the clean­est fos­sil fuel, Com­mer­cial Direc­tor of Elec­tro­gas Cather­ine Halpin said.

The com­pany would also re­duce ma­rine emis­sions since it would use less sea water than D1 cur­rently uses. The com­pany in­formed the meet­ing that the sewage dis­charge will be col­lected and be emp­tied ev­ery six to eight weeks by a li­censed con­trac­tor.

The com­pany also re­as­sured that it would be act­ing in com­pli­ance with reg­u­la­tions, how­ever the meet­ing mainly clar­i­fied that Elec­tro­gas would be stor­ing its waste and of­fload­ing it to a li­censed con­trac­tor to dis­pose of it.

As the meet­ing started be­ing dom­i­nated with in­dus­try techno-bab­ble, a num­ber of peo­ple slowly flowed out of the meet­ing re­duc­ing the num­ber dras­ti­cally two hours in.

The wave cli­mate study, pre­sented by an Elec­tro­gas spokesper­son, showed that most wind in the area ap­proaches from the north west.

It showed that the high­est wave that could be achieved in a year is about 2m high, but the spokesper­son also said that there is a pos­si­bil­ity that the waves reach a height of 3.45m in a hun­dred year span.

The study al­lowed Elec­tro­gas to ex­am­ine the FSU in a storm, in this cir­cum­stance the FSU would safely change its moor­ing po­si­tion to be 70m out of the jetty, here the chains would be fully ten­sioned. It also showed that the sys­tem would work should there be a one in one hun­dred year storm.

Halpin the clar­i­fied should LNG spill it would va­por­ize quickly and would not harm aquatic life. The vapour could cre­ate a cloud which can ig­nite if it meets an ig­ni­tion source, how­ever this does not oc­cur in open air.

The FSU is also dou­ble-hulled, can an­tic­i­pate any ex­treme sea con­di­tions, and would al­low a full au­to­matic and safe dis­con­nec­tion, she said.

In the con­se­quence anal­y­sis the com­pany eval­u­ated that there could be flash fire, a vapour cloud ex­plo­sion, a jet fire and a pool fire with ig­ni­tion. The prob­a­bil­ity that this could oc­cur would be one in one hun­dred thou­sand years.

A jet fire and a vapour cloud ex­plo­sion would be lim­ited to the site it­self, whereas in a flash fire sce­nario the ex­plo­sion would be large and se­verely ef­fect sur­round­ing ar­eas. A pool fire, which is prob­a­bly the worst case sce­nario can only oc­cur once in one mil­lion years and would oc­cur if there was an ex­tremely large leak of the cargo tanks or a co­or­di­nated at­tack on the plant took place.

Next to speak was COMAH rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dr Ge­orge Pa­padakis, but by this point, nearly three hours into the meet­ing, the num­bers of the pub­lic di­min­ished with less than half still re­main­ing in at­ten­dance.

The level of in­di­vid­ual and so­ci­etal risk is ac­cept­able or broadly ac­cept­able in all ar­eas out­side or in close vicin­ity to the im­pact zone, Dr Pa­padakis said.

Trans­port Malta Cap­tain David Bugeja, said that the or­gan­i­sa­tion would be pro­vid­ing a 24/7 ser­vice to the FSU and LNGC and would pri­ori­tise the safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion of the area.

The nau­ti­cal risk study TM em­ployed, ac­cord­ing to Cap­tain Bugeja, en­sured that lo­cal knowl­edge and ex­per­tise were used dur­ing the as­sess­ment.

He went on to say that op­er­a­tional mea­sures need to re­flect the lim­i­ta­tions re­vealed by the stud­ies con­ducted by TM.

He also said that there have been no fore­seen nav­i­ga­tional re­stric­tions.

Peter Paul Coleiro from the Civil Pro­tec­tion Depart­ment spoke of the ex­ter­nal emer­gency plan which fol­lows the COMAH reg­u­la­tions and is re­newed ev­ery three years.

He spoke of the dif­fer­ence be­tween the in­ter­nal emer­gency plan, which falls un­der the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the op­er­a­tor; and the ex­ter­nal emer­gency plan which has been drafted by the CPD.

FALCK, an in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion who are ex­perts in ex­ter­nal emer­gency plans will be pro­vid­ing the CPD with train­ing and will also act as con­sul­tants.

The CPD will be pro­vided with two fire fight­ing tug ves­sels, two in­dus­trial fire en­gines and var­i­ous other equip­ment to com­bat a worst case sce­nario.

“In ev­ery sce­nario the res­i­dents of Marsaxlokk and Birzeb­bu­gia would not need to evac­u­ated” Coleiro as­sured res­i­dents.

Coleiro also showed res­i­dents through the use of video that LNG whilst flammable dis­perses and va­por­izes quickly se­verely di­min­ish­ing any chance of a huge ex­plo­sion.

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