Enemed is working to address the problem and inconvenience of oil seeping into the sea at Birzebbugia, as it being planned that the tanks which store fuel will no longer be used by the end of this year.
The Executive Chairman of Enemed, Kevin Chircop said that as soon as it moves to its facilities at Ħas-Saptan, the company will dismantle the tanks at Birzebbugia and begin a project to decontaminate the site with the hope that a solution will be found for the oil which has been on the rocks for many years and in which over the last four months has once again ended up in the sea.
By next year the the fuel storage tanks at Birzebbugia will no longer be used by Enemed as it will moving to its new facilities.
Despite this, at the moment the company is addressing the seepage of the oil. Mr Chircop said that it is very complicated because it is a result of how the plant was built over 100 years ago and the various accidents over the years including the biggest one which occurred 50 years ago.
“It was a very serious accident where there was a bomb next to the tank which contains 9.5 million litres of fuel, so we do not know how much was collected and how much seeped into the water table.”
Mr Chircop said that at the time they used to take measures to try and reduce the effects by making barriers in the hope that the oil does not seep into the sea. However, he explained that since the plant was located next to the coast, and the seawater passes over the rocks, studies carried out 20 years ago showed that the oil had spread over a substantial amount of rocks in the area.
Over the last few years, for some reason the seeping of oil into the sea had decreased significantly however after February’s heavy storm, it started re-appearing on a regular basis. Mr Chircop said that although to date no one knows why and where it came from, there has been continuous monitoring and action is being taken.
“We closed off the area with special booms so that we can try to contain the contamination, and apart from that we dug new boreholes so that we can extract the oil from the rocks. We then test the oil which comes out which shows that the fuel which has been collected here stopped being used in Malta between 30 – 40 years ago, so in other words this is oil from that accident or from a previous accident”.
Enemed plans to place the facilities at Birzebbugia on cold standby and by mid-next year they will be finally closed. Exactly after that, another decontamination project will take place in the hope of addressing this problem once and for all.
Oil on rocks at Birzebbugia bay – residents have been complaining for years