Seismic risks see anti-oil activists invoke “the Principle of Precaution”

Activists took time during work hours today to mount a vigil outside Vila do Bispo council in a bid to “highlight the seismic risks association with the perforation and injection of fluids associated with oil exploration”.

But the stand was not simply local.

The same document handed to council representative Rute Silva was dispatched by email to President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and to António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations.

The activists’ premise was that because of seismic risks “and possible associated tsunamis”, the Portuguese State should “honour and apply” the “Principle of Precaution, and throw out its “pretentions for gas and oil exploration”, as per concession areas that include every inch of coastline, as well as deep offshore.

According to the group – made up of MALP (one of the first anti-oil groups), Stop Petróleo Vila do Bispo and Tavira em Transição – the Principle of Precaution “prohibits a certain form of economically-driven, short-sighted and inconsequential development”.

Exploration of gas and oil is “without a shadow of doubt” a subject where precaution takes on “major importance in respect of public safety”, particularly when citizens affected have shown themselves to be “manifestly opposed to the consequences of such activity”, said the group – alluding also to Portugal having ostensibly signed up to the Paris Climate Accord.

In the end, it asked, “who is it who doesn’t want to comply” with the Paris Climate Accord?

Holding placards high, chanting and creating a circle outside the Algarve’s westernmost council, the group stressed there has been no reply to the 42,295 citizens who signed their names against oil and gas exploration during the public consultation period given over to the authorisation process for drilling by Galp/ENI off the coast of Aljezur.

Campaigning group ASMAA has in fact had ‘a form of reply’, telling them that the multitude of signatures for nothing as people basically had their say in an extended period of public consultation, and GALP/ ENI have complied with all “legal and contractual obligations”.

Today’s protest however looked as likely to accept this answer as ASMAA has been – and campaigners furthermore challenged the fact that the GALP/ENI concession has been ‘let off’ the hook when it comes to taking out insurance against civil responsibility.

“If the State does not take responsibility for damages” – including oil spills and precipitated earthquakes, then who will, the group asked, concluding its press release with the news that Vila do Bispo council has offered to “collaborate” in drawing up the grounds for the Principle of Precaution “and how to see it applied”.

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