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    Today’s radio broadcast will revisit local issues affecting our environment.

    To begin with, we couldn’t start off with anything other than the horrific fire at the Port over a week ago which raised many questions and caused immediate and longer lasting environmental problems.
    You may be interested to know that the ESG has fielded and followed up many complaints from residents near the port who have suffered noxious smells off and on for some years now. Obviously there are numerous potential sources of air pollution in this area but the sullage plant has been identified as responsible on various occasions. While some efforts have been made by those responsible to address these problems, the reality is that fumes have continued to occur ending, very shockingly, with a massive accident which has shaken the industry and authorities to the core. Let’s not forget the frightening injuries suffered by a worker and his colleagues.

    At an immediate level, and as we have said before, the injured and emergency services were of most concern- residents in the area were also clearly affected by the persistent blaze and noxious clouds, but even this could have been far, worse had the wind changed direction and smoke dropped to street level. The entire community, it is also safe to say, were shaken by this incident and many no doubt became aware for the first time, of such industrial practices in Gibraltar.

    Question is…have lessons being learnt? When one reads that planning permission had already been awarded to this sullage plant to almost double its capacity- news that frankly would have been unbelievable to residents already suffering the impacts of fumes from such industry – one wonders if we, in Gibraltar are ever going to join the dots and manage our environment more holistically….? Important? Surely, look at the proximity of the liners to the tanks site……

    Just yesterday evening the ESG presented a petition directly to the Chief Minister, which incidentally is also available online, to coincide with an environmental protest by our colleagues in Algeciras who were drawing attention to the oil spills on their shores which hadn’t rec’d due attention from their authorities. This lingering pollution and smells of oil and other waste material affecting our harbour waters long after the fire went out, is a stark reminder of how dirty oil pollution is. The fumes are also harmful to inhale and we have been receiving regular complaints from frontline residents.
    We do understand, of course, that the fire was an accident, and that all efforts are now being made to clean up and to establish the steps that caused the accident in the first place to ensure this is not repeated again. Fine, this can apply to this particular plant and situation. But as long we have a growing fuel economy surrounding our homes, schools and hospitals, we are running similar risks of accidents with major repercussions.

    This is why in our petition to Government yesterday we urged them to look at this oil incident as a symptom of poorly regulated and often conflicting activity which presents risks to the population and causes environmental degradation.
    It’s been a stark warning and one that we should all take heed of.
    Thanks for listening.