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Ship smoke alarms residents, prompts calls for tighter controls

A vessel anchored near Rosia was ordered to leave Gibraltar Waters by the Gibraltar Port Authority if it continued to allow thick, black plumes of smoke to emit from its funnel.

The ship was spotted by vessel traffic service operators on Wednesday evening while it was anchored in the western anchorage.

Footage of this incident on Wednesday evening was posted on social media sites sparked calls from local environmental groups and residents alike for tighter controls on ship emissions.

A spokesman for the Gibraltar Port Authority told the Chronicle: “VTS immediately contacted the vessel and ordered this to be stopped and warned that the vessel would be ordered to leave British Gibraltar Territorial Waters if this continued.”

“This action took place prior to receiving any complaints from the general public.”

The vessel was continuously monitored during the remainder of its stay in the Bay of Gibraltar throughout the night using thermal imaging cameras, the GPA said, adding that there was no repetition of smoke emissions and the vessel departed yesterday morning.

“The vessel in question is not a banned vessel,” the spokesman for the GPA added.

“And as is the case with all vessels calling at Gibraltar there is a process for clearance of the vessel prior to its arrival.”

“The extent of the fumes emanating from this vessel’s funnel is not an issue we normally encounter, although there is an element of some smoke emanating from funnels particularly when vessels start their engines or similarly increase the load on a particular engine.”

A Government spokesman told the Chronicle said it is satisfied with the GPA’s handling of this situation.

But, a spokesman for the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society called these images “extremely alarming”.

GONHS said these vessels belong to large companies that have the resources to curb their emissions, and if motorists are being encouraged to purchase hybrid or electric vehicles, more should be done for ships as well.

“There should be some sort of follow up,” a spokesman for GONHS said.

“These ships will be back or there will be other ships by the same company.”

“Action should be taken retrospectively.”

“What we cannot have is Gibraltar to be seen as a soft touch, where ships can just sail in, choke the population with its fumes and that is the end of the matter.”

Meanwhile the Environmental Safety Group called for more action from the Government in addressing incidents like these.

A spokesman for the ESG said it has held talks with the Government to tighten controls on sooty emissions from vessels, adding: “It is very offensive to inhale this.”

“There is work going on to try and tackle this type of emissions.”

“Gibraltar has to review its reliance on the fossil fuel economy,” the ESG added.

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