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    An  Action Plan on the Environmental Charter and on managing Gibraltar’s Environment has been published today by the Gibraltar Government.

    The ESG has long campaigned for both the Charter and Action plan and so welcomes the long awaited publication of the latter. The ESG shall study the plan and release a statement shortly.

    You can find the plan on :  http://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/images/stories/PDF/environment/Environmental_Action_and_Management_Plan.pdf




    ESG on Power Supply and new Generating Station

    The ESG has long been campaigning for a new power station to be built using the best available technology principles, in order to reduce the high levels of noise and of harmful pollution and to guarantee the reliability of electricity supply in Gibraltar.

    We have for many years been advising that the increased demand for electricity from the new housing estates, some of which have not yet been completed, would be placing a major increase in demand on our ageing power stations, further aggravating the reliability of supply, and the pollution and noise problems from these power stations.

    These three worn out power stations are situated amongst our residential areas and are directly responsible for Gibraltar failing various European Union directives on air quality standards.

    In view of these serious noise and air pollution problems and the demonstrated unreliability of their electricity supply, which will only be aggravated in the very near future due to growing demand, a solution is needed urgently. Adding more engines to increase capacity at the current power stations would only increase noise and pollution at the sites that will further degrade environmental quality.

    The new fully compliant and relocated power station was a GSD manifesto commitment to have been completed at the end of 2010. The ESG would like the GOG to announce if or when it intends to begin construction and to explain the reason for the long delay of this urgently needed project.  “


    Please support the next protest to take place at Western Beach in February. Spanish NGO’s will be making an effort to galvanise support on the spanish side of the border given that the environment knows no borders and all citizens are affected by this type of pollution.


    TIME: 6.00PM

    DATE: 10TH FEBRUARY 2011

    Please contact esg@gibtelecom.net for electronic poster and also printed version if you can help distribute- thanks!

    ESG 1st Press Release on Epid Study Findings

    The ESG would like to issue the first of two reactions to the Epidemiological Study findings made public last Monday. The first is our own internal assessment; the second will be issued once feedback has been received from our public health advisers. The publication of this Epidemiological Study is a result of years of campaigning by the ESG and colleagues across the border and is therefore an achievement in its own right – hopefully the start of further analysis that will bring about greater health potential for our communities.

    The views expressed by Govt and Breast Cancer Support Gibraltar that breast cancer levels are within EU norms as stated in the report does not offer reassurance whatsoever to the ESG and to members of the public who have already expressed a view. In the first place breast cancer incidence is not average for Europe: it is at the top quarter of the range. Secondly, to say that Gibraltar is “average for Europe” (taking all types of cancer into account) is no reassurance if the incidence of cancer in Europe is high.

    The only reassurance would come in knowing that all cancer levels are low to zero within the EU or global range. It is also no reassurance to proceed on the basis that Gibraltar is no different to other modern, sophisticated urbanized countries in Europe, as has been said. That should not be interpreted as excusing, let alone justifying, the perpetuation of preventable causes.

    The report also confirms what our group has known for many years simply because the science is well known that carcinogenic pollutants aggravate and raise cancer risks. Carcinogenic pollutants are also identified in the report as occurring in our community produced from local and nearby sources and we believe the next steps now are for Government to take up the many recommendations made by the Danish team in their report.

    We would like to highlight that the report confirms that:

    • High breast cancer rate is linked to exposure to pollutants such as PAH’s, arsenic, nickel and possibly chromium
    • The main medium of exposure to these is through breathing
    • The principal producer of these pollutants are heavy industries
    • Several local sources such as road and shipping traffic, our diesel generators, and flaring from CEPSA Oil Refinery are all contributory while so far unquantifiable
    • There is a need to improve our emission data collection as well as expand this by including previously unmeasured carcinogens
    • There is a need to carry out a bio-monitoring programme of subgroups within the population to investigate the higher than average levels of breast cancer on the Rock

    Finally, the epidemiological study was not intended to, and does not address, other causes of illness, notably respiratory ones.

    As advised the ESG will be issuing a second more thorough response once we have received feedback from our public health advisers.==============================================================================

    ESG Radio Newsletter 20th January 2011

    Last time we focused on a review of 2010 and highlights of an environmental importance. In case you missed this you can get a copy by emailing us on esg@gibtelecom.net or visiting our website: esg-gib.net where it is posted under latest news.

    Looking ahead to 2011 we shall continue to work for a healthier environment for our local and bay communities. There is much hard work ahead. Raising our families in this region is a mixed blessing. We live in an amazing natural environment bursting with fantastic attributes and potential, and yet, we still have a long way to go before we co-exist in this special area in a sustainable
    and respectful manner. The exploitation of our geographic location and the opportunities this gives businesses to continue to expand in the line of fossil fuel industry is an issue that does not sit well with environmentalists, or frankly, anyone who wants a healthy and safe environment for their families to live in – especially when best available technologies are not practised.

    Since our last newsletter our group spoke out in the media against the very real possibility of new bunkering activity on the eastern flank of Gibraltar. As we said in our interview: increased safety by way of a modern vessel tracking system should not equal increased bunkering. The ESG will continue to monitor this situation with plans to step up its campaign as necessary.

    Also these past few days we learnt that CEPSA, the major Oil Refinery in the Bay, saw a doubling of product output in 2010 as compared to 2009, and all this with a non-compliant operating licence!! We shall be focusing on this important issue which is also affecting our health and quality of life during the first qtr of this year.

    Talking about health, it was quite a milestone we reached on Monday, when Gibraltar finally saw the first report from the Epidemiological Study carried out by the Danish team looking at specific cancer concerns. Naturally we welcome this importantstep and have since been going through the report with great interest. The ESG is issuing a press release today and has also consulted our international public health advisers. A second press release will be sent to the media and posted on our websiteonce we receive their feedback. Our press releases will be posted on our website and copies of this can also be made available on request- call 200-48996 or 54960000 or again, look at our website.

    On Western Beach and “No to sewage at sea”, campaigners are renewing efforts to collect signatures over the next few weeks. Please note that the online petition is still open. A protest is now planned for Thursday 10th February at 6pm at Western Beach and efforts are currently being made to widen support for this. Please tell your friends and families to come and support this
    important action. Meanwhile we hope that political efforts between our own Govt and the Spanish authorities manage to get things moving and note that steps are also being taken to lodge a formal complaint at the European Commission. Frankly the beach needs to be up and open come the summer which will be upon us before we know it! Please call Karen on 56800000 if you need any help
    with either the petition or protest details.

    On a positive note the ESG is very glad to learn that Gibraltar’s Action Plan on the Environmental Charter will be published by the end of this month. It can’t come soon enough as we shall then learn how Govt intends to tackle the many difficult challenges of increasing environmental safety and quality of life for the community while addressing serious and heavily impacting activities. More on that soon!!
    During 2011 we shall also continue to lobby the Tripartite Forum together with the GONHS and three Spanish NGO’s, Verdemar, AGADEN and Greenpeace – to improve cross border, regional environmental issues. We are currently meeting and planning our strategy for progressing on this important agenda- watch out for some exciting news on this front soon!

    Finally, under CUTW banner a positive step is seen in the recent advertisement for jobs for highway officers among whose many responsibilities will be monitoring vandalism and littering! This is welcome news. Let’s hope 2011 brings more positive than negative developments for our environment – we shall be keeping you posted as best we can! Thanks for listening!

    Gibraltar Govt Press Release re Epidemiological Study

    No.6 Convent Place
    Tel:20070071; Fax: 20043057
    No: 10/2011
    Date: 17th January 2011
    For many years there has been speculation in Gibraltar about whether the incidence of
    cancers in Gibraltar was abnormally high, and if so whether this is explicable by
    reference to some local or regional cause.
    The Government of Gibraltar has a manifesto commitment to investigate this issue, and
    had for several years been attempting to conduct this study jointly with the appropriate
    Spanish authorities in order that the investigation could take account of and report on a
    wider regional basis. This did not prove possible and therefore, in accordance with its
    commitment the Gibraltar Government has proceeded alone.
    Already, back in the beginning of the last decade, the Gibraltar Government had
    established a Cancer Registry to collect cancer incidence data in Gibraltar, without which
    a Study of these issues would have been impossible.
    In discharge of its commitment to establish the position in respect of these important
    questions, the Government of Gibraltar commissioned renowned experts in these matters
    from the National Environmental Research Institute of Aarhus University, Denmark to
    conduct an Epidemiological study into cancers in Gibraltar. They are renowned experts in
    the conduct of such studies. The study was conducted by Dr Hans Sanderson and Dr
    Patrik Fauser, both of the National Environmental Research Institute of Aarhus University
    The Epidemiological Study Report into cancers in Gibraltar, dated 22 December 2010 is
    being published today. The full report is available on the Gibraltar Government website.
    Attached to this press statement is a copy of the Report’s Executive Summary and
    Conclusions, which provides answers to 6 fundamental questions.
    The Report points out two relevant contextual facts, namely:
    (1) The global burden of cancer is increasing, especially in the developed world.
    Globally one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer
    during their lifetime. For one in three of these women the diagnosis will be breast
    (2) The cancer incidence rate increases exponentially with age especially at 60+years
    of age. Accordingly, as populations grow older, that is the ratio of older people as a
    proportion of the whole increases, so does the cancer rate and the proportion of the
    population affected by cancer.
    The main findings of the Study are that:
    • the total cancer incidence rate in Gibraltar is within the normal range of other
    European countries;
    • Gibraltar is not a high risk community for cancer;
    • The total cancer incidence rate in Gibraltar for the whole population is at the EU
    average. Attached is a copy of Table 3.14 of the Study Report showing Gibraltar’s
    position in relation to all EU countries and the EU average;
    • The cancer rate for men only is in the lower quarter of the EU range with only four
    EU countries having a lower rate than Gibraltar. Attached is a copy of Table 3.16 of
    the Study Report showing Gibraltar’s position in respect of men only in relation to
    all EU countries and the EU average;
    • The total cancer incidence rate in Gibraltar for women only is in the upper quarter
    of the range of EU countries, but still within the normal range for EU countries.
    Attached is a copy of Table 3.15 of the Study Report showing Gibraltar’s position in
    relation to women only within the EU;
    • In summary, cancer incidence rates in Gibraltar among men is below the EU
    average and for women it is above the EU average but well within the normal EU
    range. The difference between the men and women rates in Gibraltar relative to the
    EU average is due mainly to breast cancer.
    • Breast cancer represents 38% of cancers in women and is a priority type. Breast
    cancer is the most frequent type among European women. The incidence rate
    among Gibraltarian women is higher than the EU average and at the upper end,
    with a similar rate to Denmark, UK and Switzerland;
    • Measured concentrations of carcinogens in the air pollution exposures in Gibraltar
    are within the normal ranges of EU cities;
    The Government, including the Public Health and Environmental authorities will study the
    Report in detail to establish whether any actions or further studies are called for in respect
    of any aspect of the Report.

    Executive Summary on Epid Study (issued with Govt Press Release)

    1 Executive summary
    The global burden of cancer is increasing, especially in the developed world. Globally one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer during their life time, for one of three of these women the diagnosis will be breast cancer. Annually, around 10 million people worldwide will be diagnosed with cancer and a total of 28 million people are currently cancer patients. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the worldwide cancer rates are set to increase by as much as 50 % within a decade unless further preventive measures are put into practice. Preventive measures could include reduction in the involuntary exposure to environmental contaminants. According to the European Environment and Health Action Plan 2004–2010 it is estimated that each year thousands of city dwellers across the EU die prematurely due to air pollution and that one-sixth of the total burden of death and disease in European children can be attributed to environmental factors. The role of environmental parameters in the societal cancer burden is currently estimated to be approx. 5 %. However, some 40 % of the total cancer burden is still unaccounted for – so the contribution could be larger than 5 %. Cancer aetiology is complex, multi-causal, there can be up to decades between exposures and effects and the actual diagnosis. The cancer incidence rate increases exponentially with age.
    The total cancer incidence rate in Gibraltar is within the normal ranges of other European countries. Gibraltar is not a high-risk community for cancer. Breast cancer is however in the upper centiles among EU countries and is a priority cancer type. Moreover, measured exposure concentrations of carcinogens in the air pollution exposures in Gibraltar are within the normal ranges of EU cities. Exposure to carcinogenic compounds is always associated with a cancer risk, typically expressed as a 1:10,000 person risk, since these carcinogens are characterized by their lack of thresholds, i.e. any exposure, in principle one molecule, may cause cancer. Measured concentrations of the carcinogens PAH, arsenic and nickel in Gibraltar ambient air reach levels that may increase the 1:10,000 person risk in Gibraltar.
    Modeling of industry emissions in the Bay Area and diffuse emissions from adjacent Spanish municipalities shows that the contribution to ambient air in Gibraltar from industrial sources exceeds that from the diffuse sources. There is, moreover, a decrease in annual mean air concentrations from industrial emissions between years 2005 and 2008. Modeling reveals that chromium in the Gibraltar air is potentially close to the 1:10,000 risk value. No measurements have been made on chromium.
    Ambient air PAH, arsenic, nickel, and chromium are priority pollutants. The primary emitters of carcinogenic air pollutants are the nearby industries in Spain (CEPSA, Acerinox, Interquisa, Petresa, Lubricantes del Sur, Edar de la Linea de la Concepcion). Carcinogenic pollutants contributions from CEPSA flaring, ship traffic in the Bay and Straits, local road traffic and local diesel generators are currently un-quantified due to lacking emission data on carcinogens.

    2 Conclusions
    These are the questions we were asked to address:
    1. To establish whether there actually exists a greater than expected incidence of cancer in Gibraltar.
    Re 1) The total cancer incidence rate in Gibraltar is within the normal ranges of other European countries (Figure 3.14– 3.16, page 60-62). Hence, the incidence of cancer is not greater than expected.
    The incidence rate is highly dependent upon the age structure of the population. The changes towards less young and older persons in Gibraltar will over time contribute significantly to the increasing cancer incidence rate. This does however not explain the trend over the past 5 years, with increases and decreases of up to 30 % in total cancer incidence rates between years (Figure 3.5, page 50). The reason behind these fluctuations is among other things the relatively small numbers and population, by the law of large numbers. Even if the 13% of uncertain files as explained in paragraph 4.2 on page 48 were all cancer cases with the same distribution among types as the rest of cancer in the registry this would not change the overall conclusions that Gibraltar is within the normal range of cancer incidents rates in the EU as evident from the figures 3.14 to 3.31.
    2. To establish whether Gibraltar is a high-risk community for cancer, due to its location within the vicinity of potential sources of environmental exposure or health hazards, which potentially result in unacceptable levels of exposure to contaminants or pollutants.
    Re 2) As shown under 1) Gibraltar is not a high-risk community for cancer in general as the incidence rates are within the normal ranges of the EU. Moreover, the exposures in Gibraltar are within the normal ranges of EU cities (Table. 4.1, page 84).
    Gibraltar is however, an urban environment with emissions and therefore exposures to contaminants from anthropogenic activities, hereunder industries and transport. For the most part these exposures comply with Gibraltar and international guideline values and thresholds. Exposure to carcinogenic compounds is always associated with a cancer risk, since these compounds are characterized by their lack of thresholds, i.e. any exposure, in principle one molecule, may cause cancer. We have shown that there are carcinogens (PAH, arsenic, nickel) in the ambient air that may reach exposure levels that will increase the 1:10,000 person risk. The definition of a high-risk community is a risk management definition, of what is acceptable and what constitutes a high/unacceptable risk. It is well-known that the environment does impact the cancer risk in the general population, and that air pollution, all other factors being equal, is the most significant vector for environmental cancer risks. Moreover, that the main exposure route is thus the respiratory system and the greatest risk is thus lung cancer. The cancer incidence rates for lung cancer is relatively low in Gibraltar compared to the rest of the EU (Figure 3.17-3.19, page 63-65), suggesting that other countries are typically of greater risk for lung cancer and that Gibraltar therefore is a relatively lower-risk community.
    3. Is there a correlation and possible causation between observed environmental pollutants and increased incidence rates of cancer?
    Re 3) The causation of cancer is complex, multi-causal and long term. At a societal level the cancer incidence rate is highly dependent upon age-structure and demographics. Breast cancer is the cancer type that has the most significant relative elevated cancer incidence rate in Gibraltar compared to the rest of the EU. The causes of breast cancer are multiple, hereunder air pollution (Breast cancer fund, 2010). As pointed out in relation to the above questions Gibraltar has relatively normal range cancer incidence rates, and the environmental exposures are also within the normal ranges for urban European environments. There are exposures to carcinogens, like in most other areas in the EU, and these will increase the risk cancer as they do in the rest of the EU. However, quantifying the correlation and assigning causation is currently not supported by the available data U.S. Presidential Cancer Panel, 2010).
    4. Is there an increased rate for a certain type of cancer that could be linked to environmental pollutants?
    Re 4) The direct comparability of the cancer incidence rates is impaired for most of the minor cancer types due to small numbers in Gibraltar (typically 0-2 cases per year). Hence, we can primarily compare the few larger cancer types that combined represent >50 % of the total cancer incidences. The larger cancer types incidence rates were generally relatively low in Gibraltar compared to the rest of the EU, with breast cancer as the exception, which is in the upper centiles among EU countries. The relatively elevated breast cancer incidence rate (elevated compared to the rest of the EU, but still within the normal range) is potentially linked to the exposures to priority pollutants such as PAH, arsenic and nickel via air which will contribute to the cancer risk in general, hereunder breast cancer.
    5. What is the pathway for exposure, e.g. drinking water or air pollution?
    Re 5) The primary exposure route is air, with PAH, arsenic and nickel, and potentially chromium as the priority pollutants (Table 4.1, page 84).
    6. If there are environmental cancer risks due to pollutants are these related to specific activities in the area?
    Re 6) The primary emitters of carcinogenic air pollutants are the nearby industries. Currently un-quantified emissions from local road traffic, ship traffic, local diesel generators and CEPSA flaring in Spain also contribute. CEPSA, Acerinox, Interquisa, Petresa, Lubricantes del Sur, Edar de la Linea de la Concepcion are the primary quantifiable emission sources for the recorded ambient air carcinogens.

    Full Epidemioligical Study Report

    Please go to link: http://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/images/stories/PDF/environment/Epidemiological_Study.pdf for a copy of the complete Epidemiological Study carried out by the Danish Team from the Aarhus University on behalf of the Gibraltar Government submitted on the 22nd December 2010


    News that the 1st report on the Epidemiological study -commissioned by the Gibraltar Government – is being published today is greeted with huge interest by the ESG. Having lobbied for this study both singly and together with groups from around the Bay the independent study by the Danish University is a step forward in ascertaining whether people’s health in Gibraltar is affected by the environment in which we live.
    NGO’s have petitioned for both the Gibraltar and Spanish Governments to carry out such a study but it has only been Gibraltar to take this step so far.

    Watch out for updates during the day as the report details are revealed to the public.