The ESG very much welcomes the Chief Minister’s comments last week on Radio Gibraltar and GBC on the viability of the waste oil treatment plant in Gibraltar. This follows our belief that the oil industry is incompatible with the tourism industry in Gibraltar due to our very small size and our inability to have these located at safe distances away from residential areas/schools/hospital/ships/aircraft/etc
The ESG adds: Gibraltar is physically too small to safely locate oil processing plants or oil storage tanks or other oil related industries at a safe distance from residential areas as shown by the plant explosion where we were very lucky with wind direction and the fact that only one of the tanks caught fire. The explosive and flammable nature of the products handled by this industry is incompatible with residential areas and they cannot be physically situated far enough from these to guarantee safety in the event of an accident.
The consequences of an accident in these industries are far reaching and long lasting with regards to oil pollution and their effects on marine ecosystems and human populations as well as tourism and other leisure industries. The effects of this incident are being felt in Gibraltar as well as the entire bay and the Spanish coastline even though the actual fire was luckily contained within the installation.
The general public should also be aware that even when operating normally this oil processing plant creates huge problems for local residents. We were informed by the Environmental Agency approximately a week before the explosion that the waste treatment plant was in fact the source of the noxious fumes that had recently and regularly been affecting many residents in Gibraltar - dependent on wind conditions. Evidently fumes have not been detected or reported to the ESG since the explosion which confirms our conviction that the quality of life for Gibraltar residents was being adversely affected even by the normal operation of this installation.
Given the very real risks to lives and to our environment and to our quality of life in Gibraltar we totally agree with the Chief Minister's statement that serious consideration has to be given to operate waste collection as is done in other ports: that is purely collection and storage as per EU directives and then shipment on to treatment elsewhere where it can be safely processed. We trust that he will make the necessary moves to allow the decommissioning and dismantling of the waste treatment plant and the clean up of its site as soon as possible, their statement ends.