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    Epidemiological Study – What now?

    Beginning 2011 saw the publication of the Epidemiological Study on the Gibraltar population. This long awaited study highlighted several very important issues:

    1) The quality of data available ( See more on this below on Data Quality)

    2) The size pool targeted

    3) The need for cross border studies to include conditions and public health problems in communities throughout the bay

    4) The need for further specific studies to be conducted in Gibraltar to investigate why we have higher than average rates of breast cancer, for example;

    5) The need to now take up the recommendations made by the scientists in the report for further study

    6) The need to explore how Gibraltar’s local and regional environment affects our health and life expectancy in general

    (See http://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/images/stories/PDF/environment/Epidemiological_Study.pdf

    General Statement:  The ESG welcomes this first study produced by the University of Aarhus in Denmark. We believe that historically, Gibraltar’s data resources and analysis on both environmental and public health grounds have been very poor or non-existent. This study therefore marks a turning point in officially acknowledging the important link between these two areas. The report also recommends further studies and extended monitoring needed to identify external factors most likely to be affecting our health.

    Continuous, improved health and air monitoring data gathering should provide more opportunity for meaningful studies to be carried out in future which should then activate action plans to improve general health and environmental standards in Gibraltar.

    Very importantly you need to also have a Government in power who believes these issues are a priority as progress will only happen when supported by the right policies, political will and investment.

    The ESG will continue to lobby for effective and transparent studies to be done to help us achieve a better quality of life for our families and respect for the living environment.

    Data Quality:

    Having established that the publication of an independent Epidemiological Study is a necessary and welcome step for Gibraltar, the ESG must clarify that it continues to be concerned about the quality of air monitoring data used as baseline material in the report:



    1) That all regional emission data was obtained by levels admitted by industry (ie not independent) and which the industry themselves publish. We know for a fact that this information is not reliable as it doesn’t take into account fugitive emissions, equipment integrity (air monitoring), etc. which in a large refinery is a large proportion of its emissions entering the surrounding environment;

    2) Regional pollution levels affecting Gibraltar have then been calculated, using modelling and dispersal methodology based on this flawed data, to estimate how this could be affecting public health locally. It points to the urgent need for independent, measurements of actual pollution locally by the authors of the report, to verify the local and regional data supplied and published by the authorities/industry on either side of the border. This would be especially important for pollution levels around the refinery;

    3) The report has also not taken into account or verified via their own sampling, local sources of pollution in Gibraltar either by direct measurement or theoretical dispersion modelling as they have done with the Spanish pollution data. The ESG does not understand how this could have been set aside;



    Given these points the report cannot therefore be the definitive one as its methodology is based on pollution modelling data and data levels of pollution supplied by industry themselves and without taking into account local sources of pollution. The study is a good initial start for general reference but much more and with higher quality of pollution measurements and data collection needs to be carried out for the results to be reliable and accurately reflect the reality on the ground.

    This paper is copyright ESG prepared March 2011


    ESG welcomes overdue contract for New Power Station



    “The ESG has campaigned for nine long years to see our aging and heavily polluting power stations replaced due to the severe air and noise pollution produced at each site as a by-product of the electricity generated.


    This week’s news of a contract being awarded by Government with detailed breakdown of works involved, expected costs and timeline is brilliant news and something we have been waiting to hear for a long time. We hope that the schedule for completion is this time adhered to strictly and that the three power stations are closed and decommissioned without further delay, as soon as the new power station is operational. This would alleviate the long standing problems suffered by residents around the three power stations of heavy noise and pollution.


    Clearly fossil fuel reliance for Gibraltar’s’ energy needs on a long-term basis is not a position supported by the ESG. The group sees the new power station as a critical and important step for immediate environmental and health benefits for the community and surrounding environment, but believes that once in place, the focus should move towards the sourcing of biofuel (such as biodiesel, waste vegetable oil, or natural gas from anaerobic breakdown of sewage and domestic waste) as fuel for the new power station, with which it could operate with little or no changes to its engines depending on the biofuel used.


    Given the land restrictions and limited size of Gibraltar this might be a more viable short and medium term sustainable solution for energy production. The new power station can therefore also be part of the move to renewable energy production if it is operated with the right fuels and conditions.”

    Click here for links to GONHS press releases

    GONHS on Initial reaction to EAMP (Environmental Action & Management Plan)

    and on Eastside Bunkering



    Each year since 2007, the ESG has drawn attention locally to a global campaign called “Earth Hour”.  While symbolic in part, this exciting campaign also reminds us of the urgent need for collective action on reducing energy use and improving energy efficiency- 

    Earth Hour is on Saturday 26th March at 8.30pm for one hour and the ESG and the Government asks everyone to support this global campaign by switching off unnecessary lights during this time.  The Gibraltar Government is once again switching off spotlights on iconic sites in support and the Scouts are planning an event on the day to promote awareness of this important campaign.

    New to the campaign locally is that Ocean Village Resort is getting behind the initiative and will be holding an on site vigil as well as carrying out other awareness raising efforts to bring the message home to this part of Gibraltar.

    The ESG calls upon the Gibraltar Community to support the events on the day and the campaigns’ aims beyond Earth Hour. Watch out in the media for more information on the events planned for Saturday. 

    Visit:- http://www.earthhour.org/ for more information on how this year Earth Hour evolves beyond the hour and beyond the light switch………..


    Following statement issued 22/3/11 confirms La Linea’s intentions to deal with the sewage discharge to sea which has so badly affected Western Beach.

    This is good news and we shall be monitoring this closely to ensure the problem will indeed be resolved.


    Operarios de la empresa Barcar S.L. han iniciado los trabajos para la colocación de un nuevo colector a lo largo de la avenida del Ejército, según ha informado el concejal de Infraestructuras, Manuel Aguilera.

    Esta nueva canalización discurrirá por el subsuelo desde la estación de bombeo existente junto a la plaza de la Constitución y llegará hasta la que se encuentra en el paseo marítimo de Levante con la calle Pavía, desde donde ya se inicia el recorrido existente hasta la depuradora. “Con este colector se da una solución definitiva al correcto encauzamiento de las aguas negras para las zonas centro y sur de la ciudad, además de trasladar las que son recogidas en el paseo marítimo de Poniente mediante la nueva estación de bombeo que ha sido construida junto al puerto deportivo de La Alcaidesa, la cual quedará enlazada con la red de colectores”, indicó el concejal.

    Este nuevo colector no está incluido en los trabajos que actualmente se llevan a cabo en las barriadas Bellavista, Julián Besteiro y San Felipe, tareas que están finalizándose actualmente mediante el asfaltado de las calles que han sido levantadas para la implantación de nuevos colectores entre esas urbanizaciones. “De esta manera, hemos pasado a dar un salto cualitativo, moderno y eficaz a los problemas que existían, ya que algunas de estos núcleos no tenían sistemas separativos de aguas pluviales y negra. El esfuerzo inversor ha sido grande y la solución va a ser definitiva para muchos años”, agregó Aguilera en referencia tanto a aquéllas como a las nuevas obras.

    También sirve este nuevo colector de la avenida del Ejército para que no existan problemas en época de fuertes precipitaciones de lluvia. “Nos hemos venido encontrando en algunos puntos del paseo marítimo de Poniente que cuando la lluvia arrecia se pierde el control por la cantidad de agua que colapsan los colectores actuales. Con éste cruzamos literalmente la ciudad de costa a costa para que las estaciones de bombeo del paseo marítimo de Levante lleven el agua hasta la depuradora general sin pérdida alguna”.

    Estos trabajos se prolongarán durante varios meses, sin que por el momento exista fecha para su puesta en funcionamiento, pero Aguilera espera que en unas diez semanas quede todo finalizado y en servicio

    ESG and Beach users react to La Linea news of action on sewage

    The ESG and beach users at Western Beach greet the news of planned action taken by La Linea authority on its sewage disposal with a huge sense of relief.

    A statement issued yesterday 22nd March by la Linea Ayuntamiento  confirms in some detail how the issue of collapsed piping and new sewage collectors will be set up to divert waste, currently discharged to sea, to a treatment plant. The aim, the Ayuntamiento claims, is to holistically address the sewage problem which affects the southern and central part of the town and from “coast” to “coast”.

    The ESG and beach users will continue to monitor the situation through to completion of the sewage works calculated to be mid-June.

    Clearly ongoing water sampling will be important as will an overall and thorough assessment of the health of the beach and seabed once the works are completed and before it is re-opened to the public to verify that the works have indeed effectively sealed this problem.  

    This latest news from La Linea, on taking responsibility for redressing this appalling situation is much welcomed by campaigners and no doubt by the local community.

    Thanks to all who have helped in the campaign and/or taken steps to rectify this situation.


    ESG Radio Broadcast 17th March 2011


    Today’s’ broadcast will focus on various local issues as well as commenting on the dreadful disaster taking place on the other side of the world in Japan.  The human cost and threat of worsening situation due to radiation poisoning kind of makes everything else pale to insignificance, but not quite – with the emergence of embattled communities throughout the Middle East fighting for more rights and greater democracy- the world is truly at a boiling point at present, or so it seems.

    Still, in all this environmental factors are at play whether because of demand for equal share of nature’s resources – or, in the case of Japan, an unprecedented and major earthquake causing utter devastation in a zone reliant on nuclear power for its energy – and the grave threat developing now. The world is watching and hopefully learning but at a truly dreadful human cost, a stark reminder to all that in spite of best technologies applied and funds available in what is the third richest nation in the world – the Japanese communities are not being spared the fear and impact from nuclear radiation, this time caused in peace time and at the responsibility of its own Govt.. It is remarkable that we learn that Japan has not 3 or 4 nuclear reactors, but over 50, in an island which is relatively small, densely populated and located in one of the worst earthquake belts in the world.

    The environmental angle to this is one of safety. Proponents of nuclear industry claim that this technology has been sufficiently tried and tested and should now be the technology of choice in addressing climate change. What seems to be emerging however  is that safe nuclear energy  is non-existent and unaffordable even by the third richest country in the world– imagine poorer developing countries with lack of infrastructure, technology and resources investing in this energy choice? It calls for rapid investment by all countries in safe, clean renewable energy and a serious look at energy efficiency and consumption in our wasteful, materialistic world today.

    As mentioned before, to move to other local topics seems inappropriate but I would like to use today’s slot to inform you of two campaigns taking place in Gibraltar soon and related to energy matters.

    The first is on the 26th March and is 2011’s Earth Hour Day. People throughout the world will be symbolically switching off their lights as a reminder that we are using up too much energy and need to change our ways. Visiting Earthhour.org you can find out what’s happening around the world under this campaign. Closer to home, the ESG calls upon its members and those listening to review your own energy use and explore ways in which this can be reduced. On the day itself the Scouts, Ocean Village and the Gibraltar Govt will be taking symbolic action to promote awareness of this serious issue. More news on this in the media soon.

    Also wanted to mention that we have been contacted by Xavier Van de Stappen, some of you will remember CoptoCap when a little electric car visited the Rock on its long journey to South Africa. Well, Xavier made it there and back and is planning a new campaign! He will be visiting various European cities in April and will be coming to Gibraltar with another environmental project on clean energy- More news on that also soon- 

    Thanks for listening!

    ESG reacts to news from Brussels


    18th March 2011

    In what can only be seen as a milestone in our campaign to clean up the CEPSA Oil Refinery the recent response from the EU Commissioner to questions from MEP’s Ashley Fox and Graham Watson are strongly welcomed by the ESG. The Commissioner states that certain shortcomings at the plant have been identified as non-compliant with its IPPC certification.  While these shortcomings are receiving some attention by the operator via ongoing investments and future improvements, the EC will nevertheless continue to follow the situation on the ground and will periodically check progress with the Spanish authorities. This is the action we have called for for some years now and to finally see it happen is quite an achievement.

    A combination of public pressure, support from international experts, and sustained guidance and representations from David Dumas QC of Hassans, have played an important part in getting us here. In particular, the actions taken by our MEP’s since 2006 have assisted in our being heard in the huge establishment that is the European Commission. Neil Parish gave considerable support to our campaign and this has been picked up and carried on to a new level by Graham Watson.

    The ESG has always maintained that the petrochemical plant in the heart of the Bay has been run to the ground, operated at dangerous levels and posed significant health risks to Bay communities. “We have never accepted what the authorities or industry has told us for years: that pollution levels are within the norms and legal limits. It is therefore heartening and a great relief to hear our concerns vindicated at EU level at long last,” said a spokesperson for the group.

    The ESG will continue to monitor the situation and press for accelerated change at CEPSA which has recently been bought outright by a Sovereign Wealth Fund from Abu Dhabi. It will also be interesting to see how this new ownership will respond to pressure from Brussels.

    180311 MEP Watson reacts to Commission

    Liberal Democrat MEP for the South West and Gibraltar

    Euro Commission note CEPSA “shortcomings”

    Gibraltar’s Liberal Democrat MEP Graham Watson has welcomed comments from Janez Potocnik the EU’s Environment Commissioner on pollution caused by the CEPSA Oil Refinery. In response to Graham Watson’s Parliamentary Question the
    Commissioner noted “shortcomings presently exist for the installation.”

    “The Commissioner’s comments are significant. For too long pollution has been a real problem for the people living on the Rock. I am pleased that the Commission is working with the Spanish authorities to reduce pollution levels. Nonetheless, with potential increased output from the plant, this action cannot come soon enough. The EU has rightly legislated to reduce pollutants in air and these rules must be
    observed. The pollution levels and pockets of cancer in the area are concerning. I would like to see a thorough scientific analysis to ensure health is not being put at risk.”

    Air pollution on the Rock has been a concern for many years, and Graham has been working with concerned constituents. On 11 February Graham met with representatives of Gibraltar’s Environmental Safety Group to discuss the facility whilst on a visit to the Rock.



    Full text of the Commissioners response:
    Answer given by Mr Potoènik on behalf of the Commission

    As regards the ambient air quality in Gibraltar (United Kingdom), the latest data submitted by the United Kingdom for the year 2009 shows that the air quality zone is in compliance with all the pollutant limit values laid down in Directive 2008/50/EC on ambient air and cleaner air for Europe with the exception of the annual limit value for NO2. This exceedance however does not constitute a breach of the Directive as such as the limit values for NO2 are applicable since the 1 January 2010 only.

    With respect to the Honourable Members question whether the CEPSA facility’s emissions affect the air quality in Gibraltar, the Commission would like to refer the Honourable Member to the air quality action plan prepared by the government of Gibraltar which includes a source apportionment of PM10 and NOx

    According to Article 25 of Directive 2008/50/EC, in case a limit value is exceeded due to a significant amount of transboundary pollution, Member States have to cooperate in order to remove such exceedances. The Commission, therefore,
    welcomes that the United Kingdom’s authorities have initiated discussions and cooperation with the Spanish authorities on the basis of data exchange.

    Furthermore, mineral oil and gas refineries are covered by Regulation (EC) No 166/2006 concerning the establishment of a European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR). Starting in 2007, facilities covered by E-PRTR and releasing pollutants exceeding the reporting thresholds contained in Annex II of the Regulation have to report their emissions annually to the register. These data are made available to the public on the E-PRTR website, including data submitted by the Spanish authorities for the installation in question.
    Moreover, the Commission contacted the Spanish authorities and launched an investigation regarding the implementation of Directive 2008/1/EC concerning integrated pollution prevention and control (the IPPC Directive)[5] in the case of the installation in question.  Findings to date suggest that certain shortcomings presently exist for the installation but that action is being taken to rectify this situation. 

    Information collected by the Commission indicates that the operator, under guidance from the competent authority, is investing in improvements to the installation with further investments planned in the coming years. Such investment includes further actions to fully implement best available techniques to prevent or minimise pollution as required by the IPPC Directive. The Commission has also been made aware that the actions identified in the major audit of this site carried out in 2008 by the competent authority are being incorporated into the permit of the installation.

    The Commission will continue to follow the situation on the ground and will investigate with the Spanish authorities the progress made in improving the operation of the installation over the coming months.