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Gibraltar: Review proposed to assess bunkering impact on public health

23 Jan 2019

The Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSD) on Monday (21 January) called for a detailed review of practices in the bunkering industry to assess their impact on public health.

“Air quality within our community has been a subject of concern for some time and it is an issue that I have raised with Government on numerous occasions, whether it be concerns about traffic pollution, the dockyard or the generating stations,” said Trevor Hammond, GSD spokesman for the environment.

“Ship’s bunkers is an area for concern not only because the ships themselves produce very polluting emissions from their engines, but because the activity also produces fumes from volatile organic compounds, in particular benzene, which is a known carcinogen and can cause other health related issued.

“In certain weather conditions these fumes do reach shore and do affect extensive areas of our community.”

GSD says it recognises the bunkering industry is important to the economy of Gibraltar, but suggests the sector to be the subject of “continuous and close scrutiny” in order to safeguard the environment.

It adds areas of the local community are often exposed to fumes caused by bunkering and measures to mitigate any risk need to be understood and acted on.

“I would call on Government to have the relevant authorities conduct a detailed assessment of the industry to ensure that we are applying best available practices and to determine where improvements can be made to minimise the impact on public health,” explains Hammond.

“An example might be to discontinue the use of certain anchorages close to shore in order to allow any fumes produced more opportunity to dissipate or to not allow bunkering in certain anchorages in certain weather conditions if these are known to bring fumes towards residential areas.

“Public health must be our number one priority and we must properly understand the impact of industry, making the right decisions accordingly.”

Published: 23 January, 2019

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