Back
Register for SMS Alerts
or enter your details manually below...
First Name:
Last Name:
Email:
Password:
Hometown:
Birthday:
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.
Existing users
Email
Password
Sorry, we couldn't find those details.
Enter Email
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.

Palumbo had no permit to export grit between 2012 and 2014, PA chief claims

“Palumbo did not have a permit to export grit from the country. So what happened to the grit produced in those two years? Obviously it was either laid under concrete or ended up in the sea”

james
James Debono
16 August 2017, 8:17am
Buttigieg claimed that the alleged deposition of waste under the concrete slab took place “approximately six months” after Palumbo took over the shipyards
Buttigieg claimed that the alleged deposition of waste under the concrete slab took place “approximately six months” after Palumbo took over the shipyards
The Planning Authority’s executive chairman Johann Buttigieg has confirmed that between 2012 and 2014, no permit was ever issued to superyacht yard operators Palumbo to export spent grit from sand blasting operations.

Buttigieg was taking the witness stand in an appeal by Palumbo against a 2016 enforcement order on the dumping of spent grit under a concrete platform at the shipyards, in violation of the law, following a two-year long investigation. 

“It transpired that Palumbo did not have a permit to export grit from the country. So what happened to the grit which was produced in those two years? Obviously it was either laid under concrete or ended up in the sea,” Buttigieg told the PA’s environmental and planning review tribunal.

Buttigieg said that in the period between taking over the yard in 2012 and the inspection carried out by the PA in 2014, Palumbo had no permit to export spent grit from the country and it only applied for such a permit after the PA clamped down on the company.

Palumbo’s lawyer Matthew Brincat interjected by asking Buttigieg whether he had any evidence that grit blasting took place in that period and whether PA officials had seen any irregularities in more than 70 inspections at the docks.

Buttigieg claimed that the alleged deposition of waste under the concrete slab took place “approximately six months” after Palumbo took over the shipyards, citing aerial photos taken in 2012 before Palumbo took over the shipyards that confirm that the works took place after the docks were privatised. 

Buttigieg confirmed that the PA was informed of this abuse a full three months before taking action in September 2014, two years after the alleged illegality took place and after the publication of newspaper reports denouncing the abuse. The enforcement order was issued two years later.

Planning Authority executive chairman Johann Buttigieg
Planning Authority executive chairman Johann Buttigieg
Lawyer questions validity of Vella’s report

During the proceedings Buttigieg referred to a report conducted by Prof. Alfred Vella, then as head of the chemistry department at the University of Malta, which “showed high toxicity” in the samples taken in September 2014.

But Palumbo’s lawyer challenged Buttigieg, asking him whether the university’s laboratory had the necessary “accreditation” required by the PA’s own rules.

Buttigieg could not confirm whether this was the case or not.

In a previous sitting, a PA senior enforcement officer Joseph Abela Medici had revealed that Prof. Vella had presented his report on 23 October, 2014, just a month after the inspection and two years before the issue of the enforcement notice. In this report Vella determined that the sample taken from underneath the platform consisted of used grit and not inert waste.

Asked why the enforcement was issued in 2016 and not in 2014, Abela Medici claimed that the reason for this was that the PA was still awaiting the results of other reports. When asked who had prepared these reports Abela Medici referred to “the son of Alfred Vella” – who works in the physics department.

But according to the PA official, the results were inconclusive in determining whether the grit was hazardous. The reason for this was that the tests did not conform to the parameters set by the law.

A number of PA officials could not recall any suspicious works at the area in question during regular inspections held between 2012 and 2014. The next sitting is due on 19 September.

james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
Latest Environment News
14:03
The incident took place at 8:30am with one of the two women certified as having sustaining from grievous injuries
13:14
Malta experienced the second highest increase in employment across the EU, while households' material welfare remained below the EU aver...
12:44
U.S. stocks fluctuated but mostly rose on Wednesday, while the dollar rose and Treasuries slipped as investors kept an eye on upcoming centr...
12:41
The Medical Association of Malta says that there is not a lot of scientific evidence supporting the use of medical cannabis, whereas&nb...
12:00
As May prepared to meet her fellow EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday, a series of last minute concessions by ministers and intense pressure...