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  • Bay Bucket Brigade respond


    The Bay Bucket Brigade (BBB) considers it extraordinary but not altogether surprising to read about CEPSA’s Group Chairman speaking at a recent company dinner of the significant improvements in safe practices and environmental protection achieved by the Campo Refinery this past year. It also rejects the allegations by Mr De Haro, the local plant Director that environmental groups sometimes use alarmist tactics to mobilise public opinion. These statements comes just a matter of weeks after La Junta de Andalucia filed an official notice that it was charging CEPSA for breaching levels of sulphur dioxide, a highly toxic pollutant (as per Real Decreto 1073/2002). The BBB is not clear what world these people inhabit but it is clearly not the same one as the residents of the Bay.

    Sulphur Dioxide levels at Guadarranque

    In a strongly worded statement accessible on its website, la Junta states that CEPSA was failing to meet its commitment in its ’ “Declaracion de Impacto Ambiental” to reduce harmful emissions. It refers to the period of the 5th and 6th November when levels of sulphur dioxide remained consistently higher than permissible. This upset, said la Junta, could have been avoided if the necessary steps and improvements had been taken by CEPSA during the past year. La Junta was also concerned that proper protocols for safety procedures had not automatically been triggered by the company during the upset period; it was only quite late in the day that the company admitted any knowledge of the problem at all. This, in the words of La Junta, is not the appropriate way to respond to such accidents and is now considering fining CEPSA up to 150,000 euros.

    The BBB views this recent incident as proof that CEPSA is not meeting its environmental commitments but merely paying lip service to them. There is considerable other evidence backing this.

    On the question of alarmism and scientific backing

    The BBB also takes issue with the comments made by Mr De Haro, Director of the local plant that “alarmism” is sometimes used by environmental campaigners to mobilise public opinion without adequate scientific or technical basis. Given that this gentleman has often described the toxic smoking plumes from his plant as “Sands from the Sahara”, the BBB asks if he is qualified to make such judgements on the scientific basis behind the cross border campaigning groups. More recently, in El Pais, Mr De Haro completely misrepresented the results of the aforementioned Atlas de Mortalidad, claiming these health studies indicate smoking and poor lifestyles as causes, when in fact they dismiss these possibilities and suspect environmental pollution!

    BBB members enjoy support and active participation from a number of esteemed and knowledgeable scientists and engineers who provide the backbone for much of their campaigns.

    As examples we cite:

    · The bucket sampling by the BBB which collects scientific evidence of excessive air pollution from industry – a technology approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency and with the considerable technical back-up of the international Bucket Brigade and Global Community Monitoring network; Bucket Brigade scientifically measured benzene concentration around the plant at a factor 22 times higher than the allowed maximum concentration prescribed by the EU

    · The cross border coalition “Plataforma por el Estudio Epidemiologico” bases its campaign for improved health studies on the “alarming” results of a peer-reviewed scientific study- the Atlas de Mortalidad by Professor Benach – that shows that people in the Campo de Gibraltar area die sooner and have higher cancer rates than practically everywhere else in Spain – this is borne out by the direct experience of people living in the Bay who see new cases of cancer develop on an all too regular basis

    · The BBB has used official data available on the EPER site to show that CEPSA Refinery in the Bay is among the dirtiest in Europe

    · La Junta has also used scientific data from its monitoring station to prove that the Refinery’s emissions have been excessive

    There is indeed considerable scientific and technical data supporting the stance taken by environmental campaigners that CEPSA is not meeting its environmental commitments; this is not “alarmism”. It would appear clear to all but CEPSA management that its local Refinery has a long way to go before fulfilling its commitment to environmental protection and safety in a manner which reflects the reality on the ground.

    The BBB finally asks CEPSA to provide scientific data and evidence of the “achievements” it is talking about regarding improvements to safety practices and environmental protection.

    For further information:-

    – See www.juntadeandalucia.es then Consejeria de Medio Ambiente: Red de Vigilancia choose Informe diario de Calidad del Aire Ambiente check 5th and 6th November

    – See www.juntadeandalucia.es, under Consejeria de Medio Ambiente then under Noticias, dated 10th November titled:” Medio Ambiente abre expediente sancionadora CEPSA por Incumplimiento de la Declaracion de impacto ambiental”