The Malta Independent 13 July 2024, Saturday
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Jean Paul Sofia Public Inquiry Report highlights ‘indispensable’ role of geologists – chamber

Friday, 1 March 2024, 09:44 Last update: about 5 months ago

The Jean Paul Sofia Public Inquiry has highlighted the indispensable role of the geologist in the construction industry and has recommended that every rock excavation should be preceded by a report written by a geologist to assess ground conditions, the Chamber of Geologists said.

This recommendation implies that the state must now recognise the profession of the geologist so that only warranted geologists will be allowed to make such geological reports and fill in the description of ground conditions of the Method Statement, which presently is done by other professionals who may not understand or misinterpret the site geology, as revealed in several cases.

Two months ago, the president of the Malta Chamber of Geologists had asked for a meeting with Minister Jonathan Attard to discuss this unacceptable situation, but the minister has not yet issued an invitation. The Chamber said it remains willing to offer its professional advice to the government and public entities, but the response has been one of indifference, despite the geologist’s important role in matters of public safety.

The Public Inquiry Report also revealed that the geological map of Malta produced by the Continental Shelf Department within the Ministry of Finance, is inaccurate. The law requires that the geological map is consulted ahead of rock excavation, the chamber said.

The Chamber of Geologists said it has identified serious omissions and tampering of this map especially since its 2022 ‘update’. Instead of making the necessary corrections, the Director General at the Continental Shelf Department continues to challenge the professional advice given by the Chamber of Geologists and refuses to make the necessary corrections, effectively undermining public safety, which can cost lives. Part of the tampered geological map includes the area around the site of the tragic collapse of Miriam Pace’s former home in 2020. 

Although responsible for making Malta’s geological map, the public inquiry Report confirms that the Continental Shelf Department does not employ any geologists. The same Department was also responsible for the absolute failure of Malta’s oil and gas exploration over the years. Several of the Chamber’s members had approached the Director General to offer their help in the national interest, but they were ignored, the chamber said.

The Chamber agreed with the prime minister that those responsible should now resign and believes that the position of the Director General at the Continental Shelf Department is no longer tenable. The Chamber urged the government to set up a national Geological Service as found in every other European country. The Geological Service would employ geologists to update Malta’s geological map, advise the public on geological hazards, and assess Malta’s natural resources on land and in its vast exclusive economic zone, for the benefit of all Maltese.

 

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