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  • The CEPSA refinery continues polluting the area


    Many would have seen the frightening scene which developed at about 19.00hrs on Sunday at the CEPSA refinery. Reports today in the Spanish press explain what occurred and that the flaring was a response to a sudden power failure in the Pinar de Rey substation.


    Nevertheless, the size of the flames and volume of gaseous smoke heading for Gibraltar was extremely unnerving and the ESG received numerous calls from people worried about what they were seeing. With five chimneys alight with tall flames for the best part of one hour people could only watch with horror as the heavy smoke continued to cover La Linea town and Gibraltar. Flaring at refineries is known to release hundreds of different toxins and the smoke seen cannot be dismissed simply as soot. Refineries may need to protect its equipment and plant by blowing gases away from the immediate workplace; unfortunately this means towards residential populations living in Spain and Gibraltar.

    When will the authorities on both sides of the border set up a cross border contingency plan to kick into action the minute an incident like this occurs? What if something had gone badly wrong at the Refinery and the situation deteriorated? Who would Gibraltarians call? On the Spanish side, people can call an emergency number 112 for information and reassurance.


    We, in Gibraltar, also need such a number for incidences across the border. This type of intense polluting activity further underlines the need for a proper epidemiological study to be done to assess the damage being done to public health. It also highlights the need for better practices to be adopted by industries such as refineries as any fall-out impacts heavily on people and the environment.