News of yet another oil spill of heavy fuel oil is just what no one wanted to hear given the recent and successful departure of the OS35 – although even this vessel may still return to the Rock due to bad weather.
While details are still emerging it appears the spill came from a ship receiving bunker. It was an accident that should not have happened, given it was during a normal procedure, and the ESG asks why the spill occurred and what level of oversight was in place at the time. Given ship-to-ship bunkering is conducted 24/7 this rings alarm bells for all checks to be reviewed.
The thick, heavy fuel oil stated by the Port to have been released into our marine environment is toxic and will not evaporate – it will affect marine and bird life and will impact the coastline wherever it lands.
Indeed we have seen 3 beaches closed today: Rosia, Camp and Little Bay. In the peak of our summer any beach closure will also cause much frustration to our citizens given the searing temperatures we have at present.
That the polluter must pay for ecological damage goes without saying but the ESG would like to see an investigation into this oil spill and awaits further information on the scale and volume of heavy fuel oil released.
The ESG has been calling for our bunkering trade to diversify away from fossil fuels given the very high carbon emissions attributable to Gibraltar from this practice. However, it is also the air and noise pollution, as well as environmental impacts from oil spills, which also concerns the group.
We shall be following developments regarding this latest spill very closely.