• Search
    Latest News
  • Illegal emissions by OESCO and the MoD Power Stations

    For some seven years the ESG and prior to is formation, individuals on its Committee, have been deeply worried about the emissions from the power stations at Rosia Road. This issue has been the subject of several petitions to Government as well as an Ombudsman’s investigation and report and numerous other private studies.

    The air monitoring stations on Rosia Road have been set up for two years and additional diffusion tube data has recently been published on Governments own website which show illegal levels of a harmful chemical, Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). These readings are taken within the South District area, close to Jumpers and Schomberg in the vicinity of the power stations and signal a widespread problem which does not come as a surprise to the ESG and others who have been raising concerns about harmful pollution for some time now (letter to Government on NO2 on 12th May 2006 refers).

    Nitrogen Dioxide is harmful to health. On Governments own website NO2 is described as follows:

    “Nitrogen dioxide can irritate the lungs and lower resistance to respiratory infections such as influenza. Continued or frequent exposure to concentrations that are typically much higher than those normally found in the ambient air may cause increased incidence of acute respiratory illness in children.”

    When the data was first seen on the website the ESG got in touch with Government and its technical advisors and discussed the matter informing the Minister for the Environment that he had a legal duty under the current Public Health Act to invoke a an action plan to set about reducing the levels of the harmful NO2 known to be emitted by the power stations.

    After a period of two months consultation with Government the ESG was informed that:

    1) legally, Government was not required to invoke any such action plan as the data obtained was via diffusion tubes which only provides background data and indicate a problem but does not legally bind them into further action;

    2) that nevertheless the Minister recognised the legitimate concerns presented by the group especially in light of the situation and known chronic problems of the power plants and their impact on the south district community

    3) that this was leading Government to take steps as advised by the expert air quality advisors to Govt from the UK who recommended additional equipment to be purchased and further monitoring carried out in the areas of concern over a period of 1 year. This would be after Government approved funding of the £100,000 needed, and after an additional lead up time of three months once the order for the system was placed

    This response from Government, while positive in nature, is not sufficient to reassure the ESG that the problem is being handled with required urgency and it is this which has prompted the group to make the issue public.

    In OESCO’s recent publication of its application for a licence under the “Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control” Directive (IPPC) which comes into force at the end of October 2007, technical measures are discussed to address what are clearly recognised as being excesses of noise and air pollution from the plant.

    ESG technical advisors suggest that gas and particulate filters as well as taller stacks would go a long way towards reducing the level of pollutants entering our atmosphere daily. The ESG insist that the grant of the IPPC licence should be conditional on the modifications being carried out to installations which comply with the minimum standards which it is clear OESCO, and the MoD plant do not do at present given the levels of NO2 and particulate readings in the area.

    In view of the above, and the genuine concerns held by many in the South District over the impact the sustained levels of pollution is having on their health, any further delay in tackling the excessive pollution is socially and morally unacceptable and totally against the spirit of the IPPC as well as the Environmental Charter.

    For information on air quality in Gibraltar