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  • ESG Reaction to Reports into Tank Fire Causes

    ESG responds to Tank Fire Reports

    28th November 2011

    Reacting to Capita Symonds report into the Tank Fire in Western Arm, the ESG sincerely hopes that critical lessons will be learnt from the accident which tragically claimed the life of a contractor.

    This Government-commissioned, comprehensive report (available on: www.gibraltar.gov.gi) outlines in detail the protocols, procedures, and more importantly the devastating condition of both tanks which contributed to the accident on the 31st May 2011. Metallurgical expert from Capita Symonds confirmed both tanks contained numerous perforations which created the conditions for an explosion whilst welding was taking place. These perforations could well have caused the regular, offensive smells in the area during normal operations at the Nature Plant and frequently reported to the ESG by affected residents.

    In a 2008 report produced by M.Belilo & Partners (1) (a Civil & Structural Engineering Firm in Gibraltar) the authors make several recommendations for necessary repairs to be carried out to the tanks in question.

    Another important issue which has arisen in the report and which must be addressed is the fact that this industry was licensed by the Environmental Agency. (2) It says:
    6.3 The Environment Agency (EA) issued a Pollution Prevention and Control Permit (PCC 001) to SORT on 15 October 2007 allowing operation of an installation at the North Mole site. EA also issued a Licence, (number WL 025(B)), to Nature under Part VA of the Public Health
    Act. The current Licence was issued on 16 August 2010 and is valid for 2 years.

    The ESG questions how these licences could have been issued by the agency when it would appear that all the necessary repairs were never carried out and were, according to the Capita Symonds report, easy to detect with the naked eye.

    Gibraltar needs to apply best practice and the precautionary principle throughout all its industrial activity- this clearly was not applied, and the ESG insists that no more lives should be lost before we learn lessons and raise standards of safety and enforcement of environmental protection legislation.(1) (http://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/images/stories/PDF/pressoffice/north_mole_incident/1/appendix.pdf page 10)
    (2) http://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/images/stories/PDF/pressoffice/north_mole_incident/3/north_mole_incident-procedural_matters.pdf Page 17-22)