Over-The-Reef Fuel Pipeline Considered In Cook Islands

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Officials concerned, public not commenting, on proposal

By Phillipa Webb

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, March 3, 2015) – Despite high profile opposition to plans for an over-the-reef fuel supply pipeline on Rarotonga, officials have not received any formal public submissions on the proposal ahead of the deadline tomorrow.

Yesterday National Environmental Service advisory and compliance division manager Vavia Tangatataia said the National Environmental Service (NES) has not received any public submissions on the Environmental Impact Assessment Report.

"If there are no submissions we will submit the proposal to Rarotonga Environment Authority for consideration.

"Our NES recommendation is actually pending on these submissions. We have to be neutral on this project, so whatever information we have for or against the project will greatly help us in making a firm decision.

"A public perspective on the whole project will be good."

The Rarotonga Environment Authority has the power to approve or decline the proposal, which involves supplying Rarotonga with bulk fuel from a large tanker via an over-the-reef pipeline. The plan’s backers – Transam Cook Islands Ltd, Pacific Islands Energy and Toa Petroleum – say it would result in cheaper fuel for consumers.

Submitted by Petrocean, the proposal involves constructing a medium-range fuel tanker mooring and pipeline.

But rival fuel company Triad says the plan poses far too many environmental risks and there is a strong risk that an accidental oil spill could wreck Rarotonga’s tourism-based economy.

Triad has also lodged Official Information Act requests to several government departments in an effort to get more information on the plan.

However they have not lodged a public submission on the EIA.

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