Archive for the ‘Blogroll’ Category

Disgraced BP oil executive heading for Maltese waters

March 5, 2014

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The ‘tagħna lkoll’ skip is filling up fast. After our previous Nationalist government’s cavalier style of governance, with stories such as the Mater Dei/San Raffaele disaster, cost over runs and stories of corruption. After World Bank blacklisted companies such as Lahmeyer International  were engaged by the pious Nationalists and the smoking gun of the BWSC power station, not to mention the sale of Mid Med to HSBC for peanuts, Joseph Muscat is trying hard to keep up with the Jonses.

The engagement of the Indian consultant Shiv Nair, also debarred by the World Bank for his very upright and ethical business methods is case in point. (http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/en/businessdetails/business/businessnews/Indian-energy-guru-Shiv-Nair-is-Malta-s-energy-consultant-20130722)

Now, the skip has been topped up with another person who failed to admit responsibility for one of the worst oil drilling disasters – the Gulf of Mexico explosion in April 2010. Tony Hayward failed to admit responsibility for the disaster that killed 11 workers and the damage to the environment. Here is an excerpt from a report in Britain’s Independent:

The BP chief executive had claimed the spill – which could yet end up as the biggest in the history of offshore exploration – was “tiny” by comparison with the amount of water in the area. Yesterday he insisted that it will not stop deep water oil exploration “in the same way as Apollo 13 did not stop the space programme, nor have serious airline accidents from time to time stopped people flying”.

His comments came after President Obama attacked the “ridiculous spectacle” of BP and other oil companies failing to take responsibility during recent congressional hearings into the disaster. Speaking on Friday, Mr Obama said: “I will not tolerate more finger-pointing or irresponsibility… there is enough responsibility to go around. And all parties should be willing to accept it.”

The President vowed: “I’m not going to rest or be satisfied until the leak is stopped at the source, the oil in the Gulf is contained and cleaned up, and the people of the Gulf are able to go back to their lives and their livelihoods.”

Mr Hayward is under a fierce attack from campaigners who say his days must be numbered. Speaking to The Independent on Sundayyesterday, John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said: “His job is on the line. I’ve never seen the head of an international company come under such a sustained attack from the President of the United States. The buck stops with him and he can duck and weave as much as he wants, but he’s not going to get away with it.” Mr Hayward described the environmental catastrophe as a “transforming event” that would result in significant changes to the oil industry.

Thousands of barrels of oil a day have been gushing from a seabed well since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on 20 April, killing 11 workers. With a relentless stream of into the sea from a broken pipe nearly a mile below the surface, the spill has now grown to cover some 3,650 square miles of ocean.” (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/bp-boss-defends-company-against-obamas-attack-1974692.html)

This is the man who is CEO of a company Muscat is giving oil drilling concessions to. Surprise, surprise, he’ll be also a guest speaker at the Economist conference in Malta this week (6-7 March): http://www.inbusinessmalta.com/speakers.

The people others have rejected because of misconduct, carelessness and their sheer irresponsibility, get picked up by our government. Great. Excellent. To use the Prime Minister’s own words: what an innovative and positive government!

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PS Another direct quote from the Independent:

A British geologist who has been with BP for 28 years, Tony Hayward has tried to clean up a legacy of law suits arising from a major refinery fire in Texas and an oil spill in Alaska, since succeeding Lord Browne as chief executive in 2007. Here are some of the other controversies he has been embroiled in:

2007 Signalled his intention to abandon the “Beyond Petroleum” mantra of his predecessor in a speech at Stanford University in which he said too many people at BP were “trying to save the world”.

2008 Called for the Arctic and other areas to be opened up for oil exploration.

2009 Came under fire from environmentalists over BP’s membership of the American Petroleum Institute (API) – which lobbied against Barack Obama’s energy and climate change bill.

2010 Said BP will press ahead with its controversial tar sands project in Canada, condemned as “dirty oil” by environmentalists that claim it produces far more greenhouse gases than normal oil extraction, and results in large amounts of toxic waste. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/bp-boss-defends-company-against-obamas-attack-1974692.html)

More information about the Gulf of Mexico disaster, BP and Tony Hayward:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/10674728/BP-loses-appeal-over-9.2bn-Gulf-of-Mexico-payouts.html

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bp-oil-spill

http://www.nrdc.org/energy/gulfspill/

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/12/04/bp-oil-contracts_n_4381909.html

http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/en/businessdetails/business/businessnews/Former-CEO-of-BP-Tony-Hayward-for-Malta-conference-20140217

http://qz.com/85324/bps-tony-hayward-gets-his-life-back-as-chairman-of-glencore-xstrata/

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/02/business/tony-hayward-former-bp-chief-returns-to-oil.html?_r=0

‘Magħtab mountains’ in Attard

September 17, 2012

I’m convinced that the most effective tactic this government uses is to ignore people, making them give up trying to put things right. The latest damning EU report about the state of waste management in Malta brought to mind the neglected issue of construction waste. I’m sure that what holds for the case I’m writing about in Attard holds for other places around Malta and Gozo.

Having been involved in local politics since 1994, when I was elected councillor on Alternattiva Demokratika’s ticket in Attard for the first time, and having worked with others on the issue of illegalities and the impotence of the authorities to deal with the owners of quarries in Wied Inċita, I know only too well how frustrating it is to ask for one simple thing: law enforcement. It is a call that went unheeded for the past 18 years.

In 1996, Francis Zammit Dimech’s ministry had allowed the dumping of excavation and construction waste in the quarries but without any monitoring whatsoever. From that day onwards we have our own “Magħtab mountains” in Attard. The waste was not used to rehabilitate and restore parts of the spent quarry but is constantly moved around and processed into building material and piled high into huge heaps of rubble.

The sides of the quarries will one day erode and collapse ruining what’s left of the valley, once one of the most beautiful natural areas in Malta.

Among the list of illegalities or irregularities in the Wied Inċita quarries are an illegal brick plant, excavation of public land when no permits for such excavation were issued, excavation going beyond established depths and ever-increasing heights of mounds of dust and debris.

The Water Services Corporation, with an interest in protecting the water table, had reported that, in some parts, the permissible depth of excavation of 25 metres had been exceeded. The concept of ‘best practice’ seems to be completely alien in this ‘cowboy’ industry.

Seven enforcement notices issued by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority were never applied. Site visits by the Mepa board, accompanied by local councillors and led by the present chairman, Austin Walker, who happens to live close by, led to nothing. Clear instructions in November 2008 issued by Mepa, ordering the operator to present a ‘full restoration plan’ and a ‘phased plan’ to restore the quarry to its natural state were completely ignored.

Judicial letters filed by the Attard council against Mepa, the Land Commissioner and the quarry operator, again, were completely ignored. The Land Commissioner and the minister responsible for land do not seem to give two hoots about the misuse of public land and the failure of lease holders to abide by conditions that go back to 1967. The conditions stipulate that areas where rock excavation is exhausted has to be rehabilitated within 12 months. There is not one square metre of land that has been rehabilitated since 1967.

The truth of the matter is that conditions and laws were never enforced and, for over 18 years, the Nationalist government has also allowed the quarries to become another ‘Magħtab’.

Like in many other areas, law enforcement is non-existent. Ministers in charge of the environment and Mepa have changed – from Zammit Dimech, to George Pullicino, to Lawrence Gonzi and now to Mario de Marco – but the free-for-all continues.

The status quo in Maltese politics has led to this: some are more equal than others; they are above the law.

ralph.cassar@alternattiva.org.mt

The author is secretary general of Alternattiva Demokratika and local councillor in Attard.

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20120917/opinion/-Mag-tab-mountains-in-Attard.437219

Il-kaccaturi diga jaghmlu li jridu, izda jridu aktar…

September 12, 2012

Artiklu fit-timesofmalta.com (riprodott hawn taht) jitkellem kif il-kaccaturi iridu aktar kacca fir-rebbiegha u hinijiet itwal ta’ kacca – iridu aktar mill-wisq li diga ghandhom. Qeghdin fejn qeghdin grazzi ghal Gonzi u Muscat u l-partiti taghhom.

Gonzi u Muscat ghandhom ilsienhom xieref tant ilhom jilaghqu u jiffirmaw kull tip ta’ ftehim mal-“konservazzjonisti” li mlew il-kampanja ewkaliptus. L-ebda politiku serju ma jiffirma ftehim ma’ l-ebda grupp li jorbotlu idejh. Li jaghmel huwa li jiddikjara l-programm u principji li se jimxi fuqhom u min ghandu pjacir jivvutalu.

Izda Gonzi u Muscat jitkellmu b’mod differenti skont lil min ikunu qeghdin jitkellmu. Mhux se noghmodha: jekk int tqis ruhek ambjentalist trid tkun bahnan biex tappoggja lil Gonzi, Muscat u l-partiti medjokri taghhom.

Il-“konservazzjonisti” qed jghidu li l-ligijiet tal-Unjoni Ewropea ma tispecifikax hinijiet ta’ kacca. Ghal min ma jafx id-direttivi tal-Unjoni Ewropea huma l-minimu – kull stat membru, u biex inkun ezatt kull parlament nazzjonali (jew f’certi pajjizi ir-regjuni jew kunsilli lokali li ghandhom il-poter li jaghmlu l-ligijiet u regolamenti) bil-ligijiet tieghu li jimplimentaw id-direttiva partikolari jiddeterminaw id-dettalji bhal per ezempju hinijiet u dati tal-istaguni, zoni fejn ma tistax issir kacca ecc.

Ironika li l-konferenza stampa tal-“konservazzjonisti” saret fil-Buskett, zona protetta imam fejn l-kacca illegali xorta ssehh.

Sakemm dawk iz-zewg laghqa Gonzi u Muscat u l-partiti “skips” taghhom jibqghu minghajr sinsla, il-“konservazzjonisti” se jkomplu jitolbu aktar.

Iridu aktar minn 20,000 summiena u gamiema – meta kacca fir-rebbiegha suppost ma ssirx, imma Gonzi bla sinsla u Muscat min jaf x’iwieghed.

Iridu l-kacca nhar ta’ Hadd ukoll u anke wara t-3pm matul il-gimgha – mela l-kampanja taghhom biss? Minn filghodu kmieni sat-3pm ma jibbasthomx, Alla jbierek. X’inhi ezattament il-problema li jkun hemm hinijiet stipulati u gurnata mqaddsa wahda minghajr kacca?

Dal-gvern hallihom jikkaccjaw ukoll fil-Park Nazzjonali tal-Majjistral… ghax inkella Gonzi jitlef xi vot u forsi ma tafx kif jiehdu Muscat.

Forsi wasal iz-zmien li xi hadd jghidilhom li dardru lil kulhadd iduru bis-snieter fi-kampanja. Forsi wasal iz-zmien li xi hadd jghidilhom imorru jixxejru.

Gonzi u Muscat ili li bghatthom jixxejru – jekk rajtu s-sinsla taghhom f’xi skip x’imkien ibatughha jew Kastilja jew il-Hamrun!

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The Times, Monday, September 10, 2012, 13:43

FKNK seeks hunting law reforms

The hunters’ federation (FKNK) insisted today that Framework Legislation governing bird hunting needed to be amended.

Federation president Joe Perici Calascione said that the cap of 20,000 Turtle Doves and Quails which may be shot in a year was far too limited and was not based on proper scientific reports which showed that bird populations were such that a bigger bag was justified.

The press conference, held in Buskett, marked the third anniversary of a European Court of Justice decision on spring hunting in Malta.

Mr Perici Calascione said that decision by the court was a major victory for hunting in Malta and the federation would continue to insist that the decision should be interpreted correctly by the government so that Malta could have a proper spring hunting season.

He said the federation was calling for a revision of the framework legislation also in areas such as how the hunting seasons were decided.

The government, he said, also needed to lift unnecessary hunting restrictions which were not required by EU law, such as the ban on hunting on Sundays and after 3 p.m. on weekdays.

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20120910/local/fknk-seeks-hunting-law-reforms.436331