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  • Concern over Benzene

    ESG and Bucket Brigade sees Junta declaration as BIG STEP FORWARD
    but asks what is being done about BENZENE??

    The ESG and Bucket Brigade congratulates La Junta de Andalucia for the recent announcements made in the Spanish press of its demands for all industries in the Bay to make immediate operational changes to dramatically reduce emissions.

    The “Consejeria” gives the green light to an order which strengthens the controls, and forces industry to use fuels which have less negative impact on the atmosphere. It has established measures to reduce with immediate effect the levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2) being put out by industry to fall within levels stipulated by the EU Directives.

    For Power Stations it has outlawed the use of fuels with sulphur content greater than 1% by weight. This measure alone should see a considerable reduction in the levels of sulphur dioxide in the air. If SO2 levels continue to be exceeded the relevant Environment Agency will have powers to reduce these which could include the forced reduction of electricity production by the offending power station. Under these new laws, industry is asked to reduce excessive pollution incidences associated with upsets in production, or on start up and stop needs, by adopting cleaner fuels and better operating controls with particular emphasis on particulates and sulphur dioxide.

    For the Refinery the Consejeria stipulates that preference should be given to the consumption of natural gas as fuel and it prohibits the use of any other gaseous fuel with sulphur content greater than 0.24%.

    Furthermore, all emissions will be come under close supervision with the installation of web cams to survey the use of flaring and real time monitors to feed data directly back to La Junta. All these measures are expected to be in place as from the beginning of October when medical tests will also start on selected sectors of the populations living close to the industrial complex.

    These are the steps that many, including the Bucket Brigade have been calling for, for some time now. To see the Junta enforce these regulations must be seen as a huge and positive step forward in fighting the disgraceful and harmful levels of pollution to have existed in this zone for so long. It shows that increased pressure from the population on both sides is working but must be maintained.

    When the ESG and GONHS first launched its complaint to the European Commission nearly three years ago it was against a backdrop of denial by industry and Spanish authorities. This important development now needs to be supported by appropriate actions taken by the industries and this time there will be even more people watching to ensure that it does.

    Benzene excluded?
    Pleased with these developments, the Bucket Brigade, remain concerned that benzene emissions appear not to have been specifically targeted as have sulphur dioxide and particulates. Benzene is among the worst pollutant present wherever oil or fuel is stored, handled or processed and tighter regulation of this deadly toxin must also be prioritised. This will therefore be the target of the ESG and Bucket Brigade action plan for the autumn which will aim to look at the impacts of our own bunkering emissions as well as the massive levels of benzene known to exist outside the Refinery.