• Search
    Latest News
  • Environmental Safety Group Press Release

    The following is a press statement prepared by Greenpeace and released at yesterday’s press conference. The ESG has included its own statement (see below)

    To a certain extent, the disagreements between Spain, the UK and Gibraltar complicate matters when it comes to finding ways to mitigate the dire environmental situation affecting the Bay of Gibraltar and its surrounding hinterland. We urge that the quest to find solutions to these environmental problems become a focal issue when the Governments of the United Kingdom, Spain and Gibraltar next meet under the Tripartite Forum.

    Environmental groups from Spain and Gibraltar have joined forces to urge the Tripartite Forum to resolve the health and environmental crisis affecting our region. Agaden, the ESG, Verdemar and Greenpeace have presented a document entitled: “Environmental and Health Crisis in the Bay of Gibraltar/Algeciras”, wherein they highlight the gravity of the health and environmental situation that affects the Campo de Gibraltar, and point out that one of the factors that is causing this crisis is the disagreements between the Governments of Gibraltar and Spain.

    The Environmental Groups claim that the health of the citizens of our region, and the environment are the ones who pay the consequences after decades of neglect and lack of co-operation between Gibraltar and Spain, and urge the Tripartite Forum to reach tangible agreements at their next meeting which will begin to resolve this critical situation.

    It is essential to reduce and regulate the industrial emissions and port activities in the region, and for this to happen, it is necessary that agreements are reached and a system of coordination and co-operation is put in place between Spain and Gibraltar, that prevent accidents from occurring, and will minimise their impact, should they happen.

    ESG say:
    “The ESG has campaigned for a number of years for greater co-operation between Gibraltar and Spain to monitor and regulate heavy industry and maritime activity. The ESG has worked hard to form cross border groups to see such collaboration take shape, without which, it is even easier for big business to exploit and pollute, with impunity. Evidence is clear from the poorly regulated Oil Refinery and petrochemical complex, which has doubled in size over the last 15 years and has contravened all health and safety and environmental laws. This has resulted in a highly poisoned Bay environment and created a public health crisis.
    After many public protests and an ever increasing number of health and mortality studies in the area as well as successful lobbying by environmental and social NGO’s are we beginning to see enforcement of environmental regulations on the industries leading to slow improvements. The ESG is also worried about the potential risk from the ever increasing maritime activity made up of: cruise liners/tankers/container ships, ferries/ leisure craft, bunkering ships, etc. The situation has become dangerous and needs addressing at a cross border level supported by the Tripartite Forum”, stated Henry Pinna, spokesperson for the ESG.”

    CEPSA, ACERINOX, and Interquisa, annually emit thousands of toxic substances into the air and into the waters of the Bay, which, added to the lack of treatment of sewage waters, from most of the surrounding coastal towns, creates an adverse health impact on its inhabitants.

    The Spanish groups demand that the Spanish authorities carry out an independent epidemiological study, something that Gibraltar has already initiated, although the ideal thing would be to do a joint study involving all the inhabitants of our region.

    More than 100,000 vessels pass annually through the Strait of Gibraltar, many of which berth in the ports of the bay to refuel, which causes spillages of fuel into the sea. Collision and accidents also occur which result in spillages of fuel. The groups demand that the anchorage “C” in Algeciras be eliminated as it is located in a protected area, and that the floating barges should not be used due to the great risk they pose to the environment.”

    The ESG ends by saying that the group was invited to support the prepared document and only agreed to do so after extensive changes had been made to take into account the Gibraltar position. The ESG adds that it did not write any of this paper but was asked to support it which it broadly does.

    It is fundamental that environmental groups work together to also understand the complexities within each jurisdiction and do not inflame an already difficult situation. The ESG will continue to strive towards seeing the setting up of a bay management system that will bring benefits to the citizens and living environment and will be done in such a way to ensure that territorial rights and sensibilities are respected.