Saturday, 4 June 2011

Company regrets sullage tanks fire

GIBRALTAR (GibChronicle/Brian Reyes) Nature Group, the company that operates the sullage plant in Gibraltar, yesterday expressed its “sincere regret” over Tuesday’s port fire and its gratitude to everyone involved in the operation to extinguish the blaze. In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, the company said it would continue to work with the local authorities to minimise the impact of the fire. “Nature’s board and local staff express their sincere regret at this severe incident and the inconvenience caused to the general public in Gibraltar, as well as to people on board the passenger vessel, “Independence of the Seas”,” the company said.>“Nature also expresses its gratitude to the emergency services and all others involved who responded magnificently to the situation.”

“Nature’s thoughts are also with all those injured by the explosion, particularly the employee of its subcontractor, who is still in critical condition in a specialised burns centre in Seville.”

“Nature and its local management will do their utmost to minimise any environmental damage caused by this accident to the Bay of Gibraltar and surrounding areas and the Group is assisting local authorities wherever possible.”

Much of the statement focused heavily on the business aspects of Tuesday’s fire.

Nature said its Gibraltar plant was fully insured under standard conditions and that it also had cover for business interruption.

Its insurers have appointed an independent surveyor and a technical forensic team will conduct an investigation as soon as the site is accessible.

“It is impossible at this stage to ascertain the exact cause of the explosion,” it said in the statement.

Nature operates the site through its Gibraltar-subsidiary Nature Port Reception Facilities Limited.

The company’s chief executive officer and vice chairman are in Gibraltar and visited the site to assess the damage caused by the explosion.

“Although damage is severe, management notes that the entire site has not been impaired and believes the waste water and bio-treatment facilities are intact and can be fully operational after partial clean-up of the site,” the company said. “Some storage and reception tanks have been damaged, though a full assessment cannot be undertaken at this moment as access to the site is restricted.”

Officials here said a swift return to operations is important because the waste treatment plant provides a vital service to visiting ships and is required under international law.

Nature said its local management and staff were working hard to resume normal waste collecting operations within the next few days and putting the bio-treatment facility back into operation as soon as possible.

The operation and treatment of third party cargoes however will be affected and Nature does not at this stage know exactly how long it will take for operations to resume with normality.

“Although full operational capacity is not expected for several months, the directors are preparing contingency plans to enable operations to continue as free from disruption as possible,” the company said.

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