Ten new questions to Minister Mizzi – Stefano Mallia
The Minister for Energy, Konrad Mizzi, is not only refusing to listen to the people’s concerns on the Government proposal to store a huge volume of gas in Marsaxlokk, but he is also refusing to reply to the numerous questions being put to him by the residents of Marsaxlokk, Birzebbugia and Marsascala. Stefano Mallia, PN candidate for the upcoming European Elections underlined this fact in a letter he sent to all residents of the same three localities on the issue.
“I cannot blame the residents of Marsaxlokk, Birzebbugia and Marsascala for fearing the worst given the monstrous proportions of the gas storage facility being proposed for the new gas-fired power station. These worries are amplified by the fact that the proposal itself has not been thoroughly assessed and studied,” said Mr Mallia.
He pointed out that despite the fact that the risks have not yet been fully assessed, the Government has already signed an agreement to permanently anchor a vessel in the middle of Marsaxlokk bay which will act as the only storage depot of the highly hazardous liquefied gas that will fuel the new power station.
The Labour Party’s pre-election allegation that the Delimara power station is a ‘cancer factory’ has already been completely falsified by MEPA experts and for this reason there is no justification for Government to ride roughshod over these concerns and implement the project before a thorough risk assessment has been carried out, something which is highly advisable when evaluating projects of this magnitude.
Mr Mallia is insisting that for this reason alone Government must exercise caution and provide answers to the main outstanding questions.
Mallia continued by saying ‘In view of the fact that no reply was received to the first set of questions which I made to Minister Konrad Mizzi some weeks ago, I have now forwarded them to an Opposition member of parliament to try and obtain a reply by means of Parliamentary Questions (PQs)’.
In addition to the first 10 questions, Stefano is now posing an additional 10 questions to Minister Mizzi in the hope that he will now provide unequivocal replies, backed by scientific studies, on all the 20 questions. This new set of questions reflects the concerns of the people of the South.
The 10 new questions are:
1. The gas storage tanker selected by Enemalta was built in 1978 and it does not include an on-board regasification unit. This makes it impossible for the tanker to be moored off-shore and to be operational. In view of this, why did Enemalta opt for a tanker that does not have an on-board regasification unit?
2. In view of the fact that Marsaxlokk is exposed to extreme weather, what will the storage tanker do if, for example, Malta is hit by what is commonly referred to as a 10, 25 or 100 year storm as that experienced when the Bush-Gorbachev Summit was taking place precisely in the same bay?
3. Does the Marsaxlokk Bay need to be excavated to ensure that it is sufficiently deep to accommodate the tanker and its feeders? What is the cost of this operation and who will pay for it?
4. Does the Has-Saptan dolphin need to be relocated? If so, what is the environmental and financial cost of this relocation?
5. The power station needs at least two full hours to completely shut down. In case of a gas leak, what systems will be put in place to ensure that no leaked gas will find its way into the intake of the electricity generators since this will certainly lead to an explosion with grave implications for Malta’s generating capacity?
6. Given that the tanker already has already chalked almost 40 years of service and it has now been contracted for a further 18 years, and given that this tanker cannot leave Marsaxlokk for maintenance as it will be in continuous use supplying fuel to the power station, what are the risks associated with the lack of maintenance on the tanker itself?
7. Is it true that the chimney at the power station will continue to exist and/or new chimneys will be erected?
8. Is it true that the land-based regasification plant will become redundant in case Malta switches to a gas pipeline by 2018 as originally planned?
9. Is it true that the Government is currently conducting a feasibility study to assess the preferred option of constructing a gas pipeline to Malta while at the same time it has signed an 18 year agreement for the storage of gas on a tanker anchored permanently in Marsaxlokk Bay? What happens to the tanker’s contract if the pipeline turns out to be the most economically sound option for Malta?
10. Why is Government insisting on risking peoples’ lives and properties by persevering in hastily implementing the tanker in port option without adequate studies and risk assessments, when the price of electricity that could be bought from Europe through the interconnector already permits Government to start reducing the price of electricity tariffs in Malta?
“I trust and hope that Minister Mizzi will finally manage to find the time to reply to all these questions and to allay the fears of the people in the region,” said Mr Mallia.