Fire­works in Marsaxlokk area ‘pose no sig­nif­i­cant risk’, says power sta­tion owner

● Fu­ture of py­rotech­nic dis­plays in Marsaxlokk and Birzeb­buga re­mains un­clear

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Neil Camil­leri

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.”

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