Birzebbugia fuel depot to relocate to Has Saptan

Operations at Mater Dei Hospital increased by 3,400 over previous year • Out-of-stock medicine at pharmacy of your choice down from over 100 to five

Energy and health minister Konrad Mizzi (left) and parliamentary secretary Chris Fearne (Photo by Ray Attard)
Energy and health minister Konrad Mizzi (left) and parliamentary secretary Chris Fearne (Photo by Ray Attard)

The fuel depot in Birzebbugia will be closed down for good after a government’s decision to relocate the oil products stored in Birzebbugia to existing underground facilities in Has Saptan.

Addressing a public consultation meeting from the series ‘A Government that Listens’, Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi confirmed that the government has opted for a change of use of the existing underground storage tanks which are currently leased to third parties.

“Although these short-term contracts, for storage of oil to be used elsewhere, do leave a profit, we believe that the residents’ health and environmental considerations are of the utmost priority. So while Enemed will lose revenue currently derived from Has Saptan tanks, the change of use will allow the closure of the depot once and for all,” Mizzi said.

Enemed is a new government company set up to manage the former Petroleum Division at Enemalta, which was carved out from Enemalta plc.

He said, that the closure down of the fuel depot forms part of the government’s programme to regenerate the south of Malta along with the closure of the Marsa power station, the closure of Delimara Plant 1 and the dismantling of the chimney at the Delimara power station.

“Birzebbugia residents have for far too long been promised the closure of the fuel depot. The underground tanks at Has Saptan will be refurbished and upgraded with modern safety features and will be used to store oil products owned by Enemed,” the minister said.

Mizzi reassured that the project will use existing infrastructure and thus environmental issues will be avoided. He said that the previous administration’s proposals build eight new tanks at Has Saptan and Kordin, next to MCAST, had been refused by MEPA.

The energy minister reiterated that the industry will next year benefit from a 25% cut in energy bills while the investment by Chinese-state owned company Shanghai Electric Power will help the tariffs reduction and increase efficiency.

Reiterating that the government would soon announce the timeframe of the construction of the new power station, Mizzi said the Chinese’s €320 million investment was necessary to improve Enemalta’s sustainability and long-term vision.

“We now have an interlocking agreement [between Enemalta, ElectroGas and SEP] that will ensure security of supply and flexibility on how to purchase energy,” Mizzi said.

Parliamentary secretary for health Chris Fearne said the government was addressing the waiting lists where waiting lists for MRI decreased from 2 years to under six months; ECG tests decreased from a three-year waiting list to a year while angiogram tests decreased from two years to a week.

The list of out of stock medicine available form the Pharmacy of Your Choice scheme went down from over 120 to just five, Fearne said.

He also announced that a new agreement had been reached with health professionals to extend operating theatre hours to 8pm and during the weekend.

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