The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it is investigating the intense flaring of gas at the Corrib gas plant which alarmed north Mayo residents on New Year's Eve.
The EPA has confirmed it is "liaising and will continue to liaise with the licensee, Shell E&P Ireland Ltd regarding the operation of the flare".
It says under the project’s emissions licence conditions, flaring can only be used “for safety reasons or for non-routine operational conditions”.
The EPA said yesterday it was “examining all evidence in relation to the flaring operation”. “Having completed this examination the EPA will decide on the appropriate enforcement action, if any.”
Shell acknowledged that the flaring was “exceptional” on December 31st, and has promised to “take all measures” to minimise further occurrences, which it says may be “intermittent in the coming days” as first gas is brought ashore.
Residents who had experience of test flaring over the past year have described far more intense activity for 30 to 40 minutes from about 8.15pm on New Year’s Eve.
Flaring or burning off of flammable gas is activated if there is a pressure rise in the plant, or a fire or gas release.
The activity’s potential for harmful emissions has prompted a review of the procedure in the US.