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Oil Spill in Gibraltar Port

Last weekend a spill involving the ship to ship transfer of oil occurred in Gibraltar port. The incident led to 3,000 tonnes of oil being leaked into the sea from a bunker tanker that was refuelling a ship heading out to sea, again raising questions over the safety of such procedures.

This issue has gained particular significance in Britain in light of the Governments recent decision to make Southwold in Anglia the sole terminal in England for ship to ship oil transfers to take place. Local business people and campaigners alike have already expressed their fears that the Governments stance will lead to a potentially catastrophic spill affecting both wildlife and the local environment and the latest spill in Gibraltar will only serve to add weight to the reservations of the concerned parties.

Thankfully the Gibraltar spill was contained with the minimal amount of impact upon the marine environment by virtue of the expedient enactment of the Gibraltar Oil Spill Contingency Plan, and by the latter part of the weekend had been mostly cleaned up. The Gibraltar Government stressed the importance of:

“ensuring…the marine environment of the region is preserved.”

However, previous concerns have been expressed about the safety record of the port in Gibraltar and once again this incident serves to act as a prescient reminder not only for the need for extreme vigilance when monitoring and regulating such operations, but it also highlights the importance of having the correct spill procedures and adequately trained responders in place in the event of a spill.


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