Fireworks in Marsaxlokk area ‘pose no significant risk’, says power station owner
● Future of pyrotechnic displays in Marsaxlokk and Birzebbuga remains unclear
Safety studies commissioned by the owners of the LNG power station in Delimara have not identified any “significant risk” from fireworks, Electrogas has told The Malta Independent on Sunday.
The consortium has finally replied to questions on the subject, but a clear answer to the question of whether fireworks will be permitted, once the plant becomes operational, remains elusive.
Electrogas Commercial Director Catherine Halpin said: “The safety studies (by both Electrogas and an independent authority review) have looked at the use of fireworks and there have been no significant risks identified as a result of fireworks.”
She added that the areas permitted recently for the use of fireworks “have been reviewed.”
Ms Halpin said the Occupational Health and Safety Authority and the Police Commissioner “have discussed safe distances from the Delimara power plant area and the FSU [the tanker], and Electrogas believe that the police will ‘risk assess’ any future permit applications on that basis.”
Strangely enough, the risk reports published by the Environment and Resources Authority last month list events such as earthquakes and lightning strikes as possible hazards but make no mention of fireworks.
Back in 2014, this newspaper had sought clarification on the future of fireworks after the construction of the gas-fired plant, which includes a tanker laden with liquefied gas permanently moored in the harbour.
Fireworks for the Marsaxlokk festa are normally let off from a small beach near what is called the ‘Hunter’s Tower’. The area is around 800 metres away from the power station.
The Malta Independent on Sunday has questioned the Parliamentary Secretariat for Planning, the Police, Civil Protection, the OHSA, Enemalta and MEPA but none has been able to provide a clear answer.
Sources in the risk assessment industry had told this paper that fireworks – and the burning debris they produce – could very well be a source of ignition that could set off an explosion in the remote possibility of a serious gas leak from the Floating Storage Unit, the pipeline or the onshore re-gasification unit.
An expert who drafted a risk assessment report for the OHSA, Dr George Papadakis, said that there is a seven to eight per cent chance that a gas cloud escaping the FSU would reach the power station. Once there, the chances of an ignition would be close to 100 per cent, as the power station is considered to be a constant ignition source. However, he also insisted that the possibility of a gas cloud reaching Marsaxlokk is more remote – since it would most likely be ignited before reaching the shoreline.
Back in July four people were injured in a fireworks explosion in Marsaxlokk. The men were injured, two of them seriously, when amount of fireworks took off at the same time. The fishing village was celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Pompeii. The explosion took place in the area known as Tal-Maghluq, which is close to the power station.
On Thursday, this newsroom revealed that TM intends to set up a no-fly zone over the LNG tanker in order to protect it from “airborne threats.”