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Investigation launched after odourless gas leak forced thousands in Galway and Mayo to switch off supply


Minister for Rural Affairs, Michael Ring TD. Photo: Tom Burke

Minister for Rural Affairs, Michael Ring TD. Photo: Tom Burke

Minister for Rural Affairs, Michael Ring TD. Photo: Tom Burke

An investigation has been launched into how an odourless gas leaked into homes in the west of the country.

The investigation was announced by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) after odourless gas was circulated in supply lines, forcing people in Mayo and Galway to turn off their gas supply at the metre yesterday.

A technical failure led to the circulation of the gas, which has affected Gas Networks Ireland customers. Gas is, by nature, odourless, but has a smell added to aid with detection.

With no smell, it is impossible to detect a leak, which poses serious health and safety concerns.

Minister for Rural and Community Development and Mayo TD, Michael Ring, a native of Co Mayo, said: “I welcome this investigation and I call for it to be commenced without delay. People in Mayo and Galway deserve an explanation of how this was allowed to happen and of the actions to be taken to ensure it cannot happen again.”

This investigation should be carried out and its findings communicated as a matter of priority. People in Mayo and Galway require certainty that the gas entering their homes every day is safe to use.

"From the situation reports I have been receiving from the Gas Emergency Response Team (GERT) it is expected that the network will back to normal this weekend. Obviously the immediate priority is the resumption of supply to the 10,000 customers in Mayo and Galway in a safe manner.

"Once this has been achieved the focus needs to shift to identifying the cause of the problem and taking measures to ensure it does not recur and communicating the findings to the public.”

Gas from the Corrib field is usually piped ashore, refined at the Bellanaboy terminal and dispatched onto the national gas network. The technical fault reportedly occurred at the Shell refinery, causing the unscented gas to enter the supply chain.

It is being piped back to the Corrib Gas Terminal, where it will be burned off in a series of protracted flaring exercises.

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Gas Networks Ireland has said yesterday that the procedure could take three days to complete.

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