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  • Benzene leves safe – again !!

    The Plataforma por el Estudio Epidemiologico (which includes the ESG and Bay Bucket Brigade) seriously question the extraordinary claim made recently by the Andalucían School of Public Health on the legality of benzene levels present in “El Campo de Gibraltar” area.

    The Plataforma states that, as well as being concerned about the methodology of the study, it’s clear that the statement is made in defence of industries like the CEPSA Oil Refinery. The report is scant in detail and states what we believe is the questionable meeting of directive requirements. It should, instead, be giving a “public health perspective” of the environmental conditions in the area. Experts suggest that in order for such statements to be credible full disclosure of monitoring perimeters and methodology must be provided and supported by real-time monitoring of emissions from industry. Only then can statements be made confirming or negating links between ill health and industrial pollution; or indeed, extrapolation from short term studies to annual averages as has been done in this case which at best is of dubious scientific validity.

    By limiting the study to a 15 day period there is no data obtained for any spikes in benzene levels due to production upsets, leaks, venting of tanks etc. which could pose a danger to the health of the people resident around the industrial complex.

    So, unfortunately, we are back where we started, where NGO’s and citizens press for constant real time monitoring of industrial emissions and where only an independent, cross-border epidemiological study could have a chance of revealing the true nature of the health impacts from these heavy industries and other harmful sources.

    It is disgraceful that institutions like the Andalucian School of Public Health joins the ranks of el CSIC, another highly reputable group of scientific advisers to the Spanish Government who apparently only ever make statements which favour industry and not in order to protect public health and the environment which is why they came into existence in the first place.

    This all points towards the urgency for such assessments to be carried out by independent scientists, as much for environmental air quality as for the long overdue cross-border epidemiological study.