Enemed digs boreholes in Birzebbuga to trap oil before it leaks into the sea

The company said that oil reported to have been leaking into the sea was the result of fuel that has been trapped in the rocks for many years

A photo of St George's Bay in Birzebbuga taken last week
A photo of St George's Bay in Birzebbuga taken last week

Enemed has dug boreholes near its facility in Birzebbuga in an attempt to prevent oil and fuel leaking into the nearby sea, the company said on Tuesday. In addition to digging new boreholes, the company said that a “relative structure” had been installed to reduce contamination.

Yesterday it was reported that a large oil slick could be seen in St George’s Bay in Birzebbuga, with residents saying that while not a new occurrence, the frequency with which oil could be seen in the sea had increased recently. 

The petroleum company, which operates a facility in Birzebbuga, noted that the seepage of fuel into the sea was not coming from its tanks, but from fuel that has been trapped in the rocks in the area for a number of years. It said the fuel had accumulated there as a result of several incidents over the years, including the detonation of a bomb in one of the tanks. The problem had never been dealt with in a permanent manner, the company said.

“At the time, Enemalta, after having consulted with competent experts, had built a ‘bio slurping plant’ at its Birzebbuga plant so as to trap the fuel in strategic places, allowing for it to be easily recovered,” Enemed said, noting that the structure has been used since 2001.  

It said that the recovered liquid mainly consists of water and while seepage of oil-contaminated water had appeared to be under control for some time, lately there had been reports of oil seeping out from a number of different locations.

The new boreholes had successfully reduced the amount of oil making its way into the sea, Enemed said.

The company said that following the relocation of its fuel storage facility at the end of the year, it will start to dismantle the tanks before decontaminating the site.

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