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GSD raises public health concerns over bunkering industry

The GSD has called for a detailed review of practices in the bunkering industry in order to assess their impact on public health.

In a statement the party said that while it recognised that the industry is important to Gibraltar’s economy, but nonetheless flagged a number of environmental and health concerns.

“It is important that the way the industry is conducted is the subject of continuous and close scrutiny to safeguard the environment as much as is possible; areas of our community are often exposed to fumes caused by bunkering; measures to mitigate any risk need to be understood and acted on,” the GSD said.

Trevor Hammond, GSD spokesman for the environment added: “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.”

“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,” Mr Hammond said.

“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.”

“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.”