The Government of Gibraltar submitted an official complaint to the EU Commission last month regarding the recurring episodes of flaring at the San Roque CEPSA refinery, with specific reference to the incident on the 29th January.

The seven-page report sets out the history to the complaint, highlighting the fact that this was not an isolated incident but rather an escalation of an ongoing environmental concern.

An independent audit carried out in 2008 drew attention to the plant’s frequent electrical problems and made explicit recommendations on how CEPSA should address these in order to avoid or minimise power outages.

A Gibraltar Government spokesman said that, despite this, CEPSA continues to deflect responsibility for preventing flaring episodes by unashamedly citing electrical faults as the cause of such incidents.

“The audit also highlighted the length of the flaring episodes, noting that other refineries take around ten minutes to recover, as opposed to the almost hour-long episode witnessed last month,” the spokesman said. “The government has told the Commission that these facts seriously call into question whether CEPSA has adequately implemented the recommendations of the 2008 audit and indeed, whether it respects other aspects of compliance with environmental standards arising under EU law.”

The spokesman said that the complaint also raises government concerns that, despite Gibraltar’s proximity to the refinery, no formal contact was established with local relevant authorities.