Industry techno babble sees public leave at consultation
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.