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Spain shows further hypocrisy over Gibraltar

Source: El Pais - Sat 17th Aug 2013
Spain shows further hypocrisy over Gibraltar

The ruling PP has shown a staggering case of hypocrisy earlier this week in denouncing the practice of refueling ships off the coast of Gibraltar.

Just 2 months ago the self-same process was approved off the coast of Ferrol, Galicia.

The process of refueling ships whilst at anchor - know as 'bunkering' is big business for Gibraltar, and of strategic importance for UK, but comes with environmental risks due to the high incidences and impact of spillages.

Just last December, the (Spanish) waters surrounding Gibraltar were declared a Special Conservation Zone by the Ministry of the Environment, which also banned refueling at anchor in the area. Despite the fact that no action has been taken since then, last week Environment Minister Miguel Arias Cañete said that the government "would not quiver" when it came to imposing the law in the waters off Gibraltar.

The move is yet another attempt to threaten the UK's stance over Gibraltar.

Gibraltar Port Authority's website has denied a claim by Greenpeace that the process is particular unsafe in the straits of Gibraltar, and that "Safety and environmental concerns are given top priority by the Government, which applies strict regulations. The Bunkering Code of Practice was completely revised in January 2011 and the Bunkering Superintendent continuously monitors all operations in the Port."

Greenpeace : "The Costa Destuction"

Bunker fuel, which Friends of the Earth's Teri Shore calls "the dirtiest fuel on the planet," is a type of oil used in shipping because it is cheap. It is a byproduct of the oil refining process. "If it's too thick and too complex to combust in an engine, we make tar out of it. But if it's still able to be heated and to flow through a pipe, we call it bunker fuel," explains James Corbett, from the University of Delaware's College of Marine and Earth Studies.

Galicia is particularly sensitive to oil spill worries as it was where, in 2002, the Prestige oil tanker sank and polluted thousands of kilometers of coastline in Spain, Portugal and France.

The region's fishing sector was badly affected by the disaster.

The Agriculture and Environment Ministry said on Tuesday that "no Spanish port" permitted bunkering at anchor, and emphasized that the plans in Ferrol involve different techniques to those used in Gibraltar. Environmental Minister Arias Cañete was, until 2011, president of Petrolífera Ducar, a company whose website describes its activities as "providing storage and delivering for bunkering."

Galician Socialist secretary general, Beatriz Sestayo, condemned the plans, saying it was "extraordinary" that "while the minister Arias Cañete was confirming tough measures on bunkering [...] this practice had just been authorized by the Port Authority of Ferrol, with its president, José Manuel Vilariño, also of the PP, at its head.

Read previous news articles concerning the recent conflict over Gibraltar by clicking the link > HERE <