photo by felinebird (Flickr Creative Commons)

The area around the Strait of Gibraltar, particularly at the Spanish port of Algeciras on the Bay of Gibraltar, is highly industrialized and home to many polluting factories.

The Strait itself is a busy thoroughfare as well as a fueling location for ships and oil and fuel tankers. This puts the Strait at a high risk for collisions and resulting spills. In fact there have been seven ‘mini spills’ during the last three years.

Spanish authorities have denied allegations from environmentalists about toxic condition and local industries deny any wrongdoing or illegal activity. However, ecologists from Gibraltar commissioned an American laboratory to test local water, which found levels of benzene to be 22 times higher than legal limits.

The European Parliament will look into the concerns of local residents and environmentalists concerning health hazards including claims of higher rates for birth defects and cancer in the area. Meanwhile, industrial expansion is planned for Gibraltar harbor and other locations in the region around the Strait.

See this special report from France 24 for more:

Gibraltar: an ecological time bomb

Illegal fuel dumping, leaking oil, industrial pollution…In Gibraltar, the population and the ecosystem are under threat. France 24 investigated how and why this was allowed to happen.