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  • ESG responds to Government on Benzene levels

    The ESG met with the Minister for the Environment and his technical advisors last week. The issue of benzene peaks was raised by the group who was informed that Government would be making a statement to the House the following day on the matter.

    The group remains dissatisfied with the Minister’s answers as reported in the media. He has stated that daily benzene levels are likely to be from traffic emissions. The ESG is not querying those readings. What the ESG brought to the Minister’s attention was sudden and elevated benzene peaks of over 50µg/m3 (EU legal upper limit of 10µg/m3) which occurred on the 24/8, 20/10 and the 24/10 at times when traffic was low but when activities like bunkering were most likely to have taken place.

    In his answer to the House as reported in the media, the Minister pulled out 3 dates (3/3, 24/8 and 1/12), of which only one correlates with the aforementioned data (lifted from the same monitoring website) and which, apart from the 24/8 data, were all less significant, registering at less than 25μg/m3 albeit for longer duration. The much higher readings were not explained in the House of Assembly nor in response to the ESG or to the public.

    In the overall but, so far, relatively short period of monitoring, it appears that sudden, elevated levels of benzene could be said to be rare. However, the group reiterates its concerns that sudden high levels of benzene in the air become acutely toxic and will therefore cause direct harm on our health, even if these high levels are short-term.

    The ESG wishes to inform the Government that many residents in Gibraltar continue to be very concerned and that the public still requires a full explanation from Government as to the likely source of these peaks. It therefore awaits the results of its investigations without further delay.