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    There has been some controversy lately as to the allowed levels of Benzene in ambient air as according to directive 2000/69/EC. This level is of 5 micro grams per cubic metre with a level of tolerance of a further 5 micrograms, reducing to a total level of 5 micrograms per cubic metre by 2010. The results obtained by the bucket brigade of over 100 micrograms per cubic metre were many times higher than any present or proposed standards of Benzene levels and therefore the illegality of the levels cannot be challenged based on different interpretations of the directive.

    On measuring levels of Benzene over a year in the vicinity of the refinery the CSIC, (Consejo Superior De Investigaciones Cientificas), in its first statement stated the following

    “ El límite de 5µg/m3 se supera claramente en la Barriada de CEPSA en situaciones de viento de poniente, detectándose valores máximos que superan este nivel en un factor de 5 a 6 veces para una media octohoraria. “

    By stating that the levels of Benzene measured were five to six times the allowed limit of 5µg/m3, it is implied that they obtained levels of 25 to 30 micrograms per cubic metre. This is also several times higher than any present or proposed Benzene limits as stipulated by European Law and is not therefore open to different interpretations of the directive. In view of these results CSIC also suggested that medical studies were carried out on the people of the area together with improved air monitoring

    Incredibly a second statement was issued by the CSIC with the intention of clarifying the first which then changes the measured levels of Benzene given initially. In this second statement they now claim the following,
    “Algunas mediciones aisladas realizadas en Puente Mayorga detectaron, en un número limitado de muestras, niveles octohorarios medios de benceno de 8,76 mg/m3 (n=7) en condiciones de viento de poniente, así como valores inferiores, de 0,47 mg/m3 (n=21), en situaciones de viento de levante. “

    It has also emerged that the CSIC has changed their limit value of 5 micrograms per cubic metre to 10 micrograms and claim a high level of 8.76 for the Puente Mayorga sample that now conveniently falls within this expanded parameter. Most incredible of all, the Consejo Superior De Investigaciones Cientificas in this latest statement gets their units apparently confused and claim the limit values, as well as the measured values, to be in milligrams per cubic metre instead of micrograms. If we now take the measured value to be as written in their second statement this is 8,76 milligrams per cubic metre which is 8760 micrograms per cubic metre, a level 876 over the limit which we hope is obviously not correct.
    We believe that this is too serious an issue to be dealt with in this manner and the CSIC should perhaps explain the changes in values obtained and the inconsistencies in expressing the actual levels allowed and results obtained and their units. In this light reassurances issued by the CSIC and the industry will be of little comfort to those living in the vicinity of the refinery.

    These issues will form the basis for the Press Conference held at El Rocamar tomorrow, at 6.30pm 25th May 2005 by the cross border Bay Bucket Brigade.