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  • Bunkering and vapour recovery systems

    The recent report of the possible expansion in bunkering in Gibraltar is met with concern by the ESG. For nearly two years now the group has both publicly and directly in correspondence with Government, been making its concerns known over the impact that present levels of bunkering is having on air quality in Gibraltar especially in some residential and recreation areas.

    In a matter of only a few years, local bunkering operations has mushroomed by 168% (according to Govt own statistics) creating an already highly congested Bay. Some of these operations regularly produce offensive fumes which could also be harmful to people. While Government has sought to reassure the ESG and the public about the harmless nature of the gases released during bunkering, the data asked for by the group has not yet been made available.

    Given the impacts that are felt from bunkering it would seem that the Gibraltar Bunkering Code of Practice alone is not sufficient to provide best practice. The ESG has been asking Government to insist that operators apply best available technology and incorporate vapour recovery systems at key points of fuel transfer (on and off shore) to eliminate fugitive gases. It is understood that such technologies are already operational in countries where environmental matters are taken more seriously such as Norway, Holland and the USA.

    Undoubtedly financial investment into these technologies would be required by the operators, which, incidentally, would also recover otherwise lost product and could be seen as an economic benefit. Given the planned expansion and increase in profits it would be timely for all operators to invest in such available technology eliminating air pollution from its practices. This would provide a safer and healthier environment for our children to grow up in too.

    In light of the possibility of increased bunkering activity and the growing complaints received by the ESG, the group will be addressing the following issues at its first opportunity:-

    – The existing overload on the environment
    – The raising of the risk threshold with an ever more congested Bay
    – The need for vapour recovery systems
    – Containment of fugitive fumes at every stage of fuel transfer given the proximity to dwellings and to built up areas