ESG raises south district concerns on air pollution
The Environmental Safety Group has claimed that recent south district air pollution levels have been causing concern among residents.
According to the Group, aside from impacts from background shipping, bunkering and temporarily sited skid generators, two factors could well have exacerbated conditions during the hot and close weather towards the end of July.
It explained that strong smells of gas, apparently emanating from across the bay, affected a large section of the south of Gibraltar on the afternoon of July 25, and although short-lasting, caused significant concerns.
The ESG said it hopes the Gibraltar Government will follow up on what could be a “transboundary pollution incident of significant effect”.
The second was a “particularly intensive” vessel overhaul recently undertaken at the dockyard.
The ESG said it recently came across an online shipping report on the recent completion of a 12-day programme of works on MN Tangara carried out by GibDock, ending in the last week of July.
“Works were indeed extensive and included multiple tasks carried out in parallel with each other.”
“Among these was painting of a surface area of 12,300m2, pipe and propulsion works, in-situ bonding of stern tube seals, ventilation works, electrical and more besides.”
“This suggests that various industrial processes and materials were used that would have, combined, produced intense, fumes of all types.”
Such fumes spread rapidly in hot weather and it is no wonder people have felt the full impact as reports indicate, the ESG said.
“Despite the nausea and distress caused when particularly heavy fumes enter homes, the air monitoring stations are still recording legal limits on certain pollutants, as not all stations measure all pollutants.”
The ESG claimed that this demonstrates how Gibraltar should be raising EU safety thresholds due to the proximity of polluting activity to housing.
“It is noted that the VOC benzene analyser has been out of action for some time, which needs replacing, especially as large paint contracts are being carried out.”
“It is disheartening to note that, despite efforts to address south district pollution via the reintroduction of onshore power connection at the Dockyard, increased monitoring of the site by agencies, and the mothballing of two very polluting power stations, that residents continue to be affected in 2017.”
This, the ESG said, calls for more scrutiny over the nature of works that can be carried out as well as the time of year these can be done in.
“The placing of hundreds of people right alongside the dockyard has undoubtedly created a difficult and unsustainable situation, which needs to be looked at very carefully.”
2017 has been an especially busy year for the dockyard with multiple vessels in for service at any one time.
The Group suggested it would be useful for an on call telephone number to be provided by the company so that residents can report issues of excessive noise and air pollution as they are happening.
GibDocks recent ISO environmental accreditation should encourage fence line monitoring and community feedback, it added.
The ESG also flagged the impacts from pollution in the North West district especially during these hot months and said it continues to lobby for real-time monitoring to be set up in this zone.