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Commentary – No Ecological Impact?

”No ecological impact” was the response of an environmental consultancy firm, commisioned by the Department of Transport to investigate a chemical additive spill on July 29th and oil spill in late June at Glengad, site of the controversial Corrib Gas Project. Such a bold proclamation, implying a state of sterile stasis, unprecedented in the history of the earth’s complex ecosystems seems unlikely as someone pointed out to me that simply flinging one’s self off a pier on a warm August day causes an ecological impact.

View from Rossport towards Glengad Beach

View from Rossport towards Glengad Beach

This preceded the grounding of a support ship to the Corrib Gas project off Erris head on Sunday, where a small fuel leakage did not constitute a pollution threat according to The Irish Coastguard. The vessel, ‘Flamingo’ ran up on rocks at Ooghran Point. The diesel slick was contained with booms according to Shell. While these spillages may indeed pose little threat to the overall health of the surrounding ecosystems, their occurences along with some other higher volume incidents such as the estimated 522 tonnes of fuel oil, spilled off South West Cork during a refuelling operation earlier this year, presage a major marine pollution response conference in September. The conference is being hosted by The Irish Marine Institute at Oranmore, Galway and aims to discuss the creation of a coordinated response strategy throughout Europe this year.

The conference is part of the ARCOPOL (the Atlantic Regions’ Coastal Pollution Response) project and also aims to improve awareness and the level of training to responders and increase stakeholder involvement.  The project also uses advanced computer modelling tools to better predict how oil spillages will move and react to oceanic and atmospheric conditions allowing for more efficient responses. Hopefully, efforts such as these will lead to more informed responses by the relevant authorities  and a realisation that our ecological impact is far from none.

Read more about ARCOPOL here.

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