The Junta de Andalucia has called on fuel storage companies in the port of Algeciras to review the measures they have in place to combat air pollution.
The step, which is being closely monitored in Gibraltar, was announced following an unprecedented meeting to assess the source of strong fuel smells that have affected parts of Algeciras on numerous occasions during the summer.
The recent incidents are related to the loading and unloading operations of companies in the port, the Junta said in a statement issued jointly with the central Spanish government and the Algeciras town council.
The Junta has asked “…for the necessary response and for this situation to be studied in order to propose improvements in coordination with the maritime and port authorities.”
The loading operations “…are producing uncontrolled, untreated emissions from the fuel storage tanks…” which, depending on the wind, are affecting the population of Algeciras.
The issue is being closely followed by authorities in Gibraltar too.
Officials here are keen to establish whether there is any link between the developments in Algeciras and incidents of bad fuel smells in parts of the Rock during the summer.
“We’ll be looking into it to get all the relevant information and ensure we’re aware of what the issues are and whether we need to issue any advice or take any action,” said Dr John Cortes, the Minister for the Environment.
Concerns about emissions in Algeciras were discussed at length during a two-hour meeting yesterday convened by the Algeciras town council.
The meeting brought together representatives from the Junta, Spanish government entities including the port and maritime authority, the Guardia Civil, the Algeciras town council and various port companies.
The Junta, which is responsible for environmental issues in Andalucia, wants to ensure that any emissions from the storage tanks are properly controlled and treated.
Air quality in the Spanish port city is closely monitored, however, and despite the bad smells, officials insisted that the quality “is considered correct at this time”.
Jose Ignacio Landaluce, the mayor of Algeciras and Partido Popular senator, echoed the call for closer monitoring and control over emissions.
Bad smells cannot become a matter of routine, he said, “…because something that is not good for citizens cannot be the norm.”