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    ESG Press Release 8th December 2010

    Another episode of flaring occurred at the CEPSA Oil Refinery in San Roque, on Monday 6th December. Following a series of reports from the public to the ESG that night-time flaring activity was on the rise, and strong smells once again being linked to the Refinery , it was no surprise to see it burning large flares for well over one hour yesterday morning. (See picture taken ESG 2010).

    International technical advisers to the ESG have always maintained that flaring at Refineries is a necessary but highly polluting activity which “best practice” sets out to reduce to the bare minimum. The CEPSA Oil Refinery has, over the years, used flaring excessively whether because of poor operational standards, a reluctance to invest in improving energy back-up systems and other environmental protective measures.

    A semi-independent audit carried out on the Refinery in 2007/08 , also highlighted this practice by the industry as excessive and directed CEPSA to take various steps to minimise flaring duration. The auditors recommended accelerating the setting up of “onsite, back up energy supply” as required under European Directive IPPC and application of BAT (Best Available Technology). The audit also made recommendations for the recovery of gases by CEPSA. Both these measures were lacking at the plant at the time of the assessment. Indeed CEPSA management indicated to the ESG at their mtg earlier this year that they planned to improve on site back up energy supply systems but this clearly did not work yesterday.

    The ESG would seriously like to know, ton, for ton, how air pollution from such flaring activity compares to a marine accident, or incident like an oil or chemical spill. Because the plumes are airborne and difficult to quantify, the industry literally gets away very lightly while bay communities and the environment continues to suffer. These airborne chemicals will land on farms, waterways, homes, playgrounds and be inhaled, ingested, eaten etc. and do a lot of damage. Refineries like CEPSA need to be closely monitored and made to account for such heavily polluting practices and forced to clean up its act and the ESG fully intends to see it does.