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  • Sierra Nava Protest in Spain

    On Saturday the ESG was present at a well-attended protest against the latest oil spill to darken our Bay.

    The Sierra Nava vessel had been grounded and leaking for almost a week when the ESG and Bay Bucket Brigade joined concerned citizens and various environmental NGOs – such as Agaden, Verdemar and Greenpeace – in a display of solidarity. There was a strong media presence and all the NGOs, including the ESG, fielded several press interviews, with a consistent message being delivered: The Bay and Straits see a colossal number of ships every year and this recent oil spillage is but a glimpse of what could happen on a larger scale if a fuel-carrying ship were to be involved in an accident.

    There have been different versions given on the scale of the damage sustained. Authorities have claimed that about 1 and a half km of coastline has been affected. Algeciras-based environmentalists Agaden, however, claim that they have scouted about 20 km of coastline and have found significant amounts of oil up to 15 km from the Sierra Nava.

    It was clear to those present that the 170 tons of fuel believed to have been emptied into the sea is presenting enormous problems for the physical environment, wildlife, neighbouring residential areas and the Junta workforce dealing with the problem.

    The difficult and messy job of cleaning up has been hampered further by the strong weather conditions. But environmentalists were keen to convey their feelings that the clean up is taking too long and that further along the coast oil is still washing up onto the shore and causing problems for seabirds. It is also feared that the response by La Junta in dealing with the remaining fuel tanks has been slow and that as a result the possibility remains that more oil could be leaked from the remaining two fuel tanks.

    Ideally, Bay environmentalists would like to see a decline in the petroleum activity in the Bay and a revival of sustainable and healthy economies which do not degrade the environment and pose such risks to people and environment alike. But while thousands and thousands of ships cross the Straits and visit the Bay every year, it is imperative that a strong health and safety culture is embraced by all in the marine industry and the strictest controls applied to ensure that such accidents do not happen.