Friday, April 29, 2005

Government picks up £500,000 Bill for Cammell Laird grit waste disposal

House of Assembly Question Time

The Gibraltar Government has taken on a £500,000 bill to dispose of grit blasting waste produced by Cammell Laird (Gibraltar) that is believed to contain an element of toxic substances.

The company itself recently informed the Chronicle that it has a policy of not talking to the press. That remained the position yesterday.

The issue emerged from a series of questions tabled by Fabian Picardo, GSLP/Liberal Opposition, in relation to the mountain of grit waste that had accumulated in the yard.

It also emerged that the mountain had accumulated since an EU Directive came into force controlling the disposal of this type of material but it was not clear from answers by the Chief Minister Peter Caruana what was happening before the directive came into place.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that at one stage there were plans to burn the substance in situ.

Mr Caruana, who pointed to the fact that Gibraltar has a ship-repairing yard as an industry, told the House that the Government had looked at the company’s books after it had said it could not afford to dispose of the waste itself.

The Government had accepted the situation and was taking on the responsibility of disposing of all waste as it does generally in Gibraltar and this was “not an exception.” He said a similar issue will arise when the waste water treatment plant is in operation and produces fly-ash.

The grit substance at the yard is understood to have been shipped to Romania or Bulgaria by sea. The Government confirmed that the substance had been kept dampened down to avoid it being a danger to people.

Responding to Joe Bossano, Opposition Leader, Mr Caruana confirmed that this was the first time this disposal had taken place since the EU directive.

Mr Picardo said he would write to the Chief Minister for further information on what the content of the waste is that makes it subject to EU Directive controls.

Flat Rate

Repaving the lobby of the House of Assembly cost over £20,000 it emerged in answer to a question from Dr Joseph Garcia

Air Deal

Government has a three year contract with the Environmental Agency to provide the new air monitoring service. It is worth some £411,000 for that period.

MRSA Cases in Gibraltar

There have been 18 patients treated for MRSA acquired within St Bernard’s Hospital since 1996, Ernest Britto Health Minister confirmed yesterday in response to a question tabled by Mari Montegriffo and read in her absence by Charles Bruzon.

Mr Britto said that in one case MRSA was determined to be the cause of death.

During this same period 40 patients returned to Gibraltar with MRSA infections acquired while being treated in health facilities abroad. A further 59 patients were also treated for MRSA infections acquired from elsewhere, he said.

Forbidden Rentals

People in Montagu Gardens have been renting their properties in breach of their leases and the Gibraltar Health Authority is amongst the clients using this facility. That emerged yesterday in the House at Question Time. The Government argued that the GHA rents through estate agents and that it is the lessors duty to see that they comply with their under lease. The GHA have now been made aware of the issue.

Ape Culling ‘not ruled out’

Whilst a scheme to repatriate Barbary Apes from Gibraltar to Morocco – from where scientists this week claimed most had originally come – is still being discussed with Morocco, the Government has warned that culling may yet prove necessary.

The issue arose twice in Question Time yesterday and Mr Caruana made clear that the preferred option was to send them away or explore some form of birth control.

Responding to a question from Dr Joseph Garcia, Mr Caruana said that contact has been made with the Moroccan authorities as part of an EU INTERREG programme and they are considering the proposal.

Mr Caruana explained that there are fewer zoos and that Government had chartered a plane some time ago when it sent apes to Germany.

Fabian Picardo expressed concern at the mess and menace apes have bee in the Calpe Estate area and Mr Caruana confirmed that Government is looking at providing covered bins.

There was also discussion on the need to enforce laws preventing people from feeding apes, a practice which encourages to return to areas.

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