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  • 100114 – ESG concerned about Bunkering Changes in Gibraltar

    10th January 2014

    ESG is very concerned with the bunker storage tanker (Floating fuel station) being brought into the harbour with the immediate safety implications this entails. Concerns include the potential for major oil spill, fire, explosion in an area in close proximity to Shell storage tanks, the berths of military vessels and nuclear submarines, and that will also see the natural gas storage for the new power station.

    The group believes there will be a probable increase of small oil spills on connecting and disconnecting fuel lines within the harbour in an enclosed area where some of our desalination plant intakes are located, leading to the deterioration of our harbour waters.

    “There will be an inevitable increase in nauseating smells from bunker fumes as a result of the air displacement of fuel tanks in the tanker as well as the bunkering barges as these are filled and emptied leading to a deterioration of our air quality standards and to the quality of life of Gibraltar residents,” said a spokesperson.

    The ESG has always advocated on-shore bunkering but this is not it. This is the worst of all scenarios where the bunkering industry is not brought onshore but the ship-to-ship oil transfers are brought port side within the harbour area.

    The group believes that the concept of expanding the detached mole to create a bunkering fuel storage tank farm is the wrong one for Gibraltar. Once the visual impact of this is realised by the Gibraltarians, (it will look as if the refinery has been brought to the detached mole), and the emissions and risks associated with this are understood, it will not be welcomed. Gibraltar saw the effects of an explosion of a relatively small storage tank when the Nature storage tank exploded and how the local capabilities to control this were severely stretched. This makes a fuel storage tank farm of such a massive capacity at the detached mole simply not good for Gibraltar.

    An option the ESG has always advocated is the complete dismantling of the old Kings Lines fuel storage area within the Rock and its external infrastructure, and for this to be rebuilt using the latest best available technology. This new storage facility would then be connected by new underground piping to the fuel connection points with proper on shore vapour recovery systems and for the connections to be within spill control bunding enclosures at the detached mole. There would then be no visual impact for the fuel storage in a much safer location within the Rock and no added visual impact at the detached mole, and no need for reclamation as there would only be fuel connection points there for the refuelling of the bunker barges.

    If the fuel storage tanks necessary for the fuelling of the Royal Navy could be safely done within the Rock in the 1940’s there is really no reason to believe it could not be done in a much better and safer way today also within the Rock. Any new arrangement and infrastructure would be self-financed in what is a very profitable industry.

    The ESG has followed the impact and practice of bunkering in Gibraltar for a considerable time and hopes that serious consideration will be given to all available alternatives that exist to bring fuel supply ashore in the safest and least environmentally impacting way, with quality of life safeguarded and public consultation exercised.

    Check out ESG interview on GBC at:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnZgu9APZ9E