Mepa says St Paul's Bay council should apologise for Qawra dumping
Mepa insisted this afternoon that St Paul's Bay Council was never authorised to dump sludge near a bathing area, as happened yesterday in Qawra, and it should apologise for the incident.
It was reacting after the council said today that it was unfair of Mepa to blame it for yesterday's incident.
Mayor Mario Salerno circulated correspondence at a press conference showing that the council had given prior notice to Mepa that work was to start last week on the dredging of the area around a slipway in Qawra.
The decision to dump the sand elsewhere in the sea was Mepa's, not the council's, Mr Salerno insisted. He said the council had proposed retaining the sand on land but Mepa said it should be returned to the sea in an area where there were no Pasedonia meadows (seaweed).
The area where the sand was dumped yesterday was the closest fitting this requirement, and that was why it was deposited there.
Mr Salerno said the sand would be raised from the sea once more and stored on land, as the council had proposed. Sand which is still on the quay will also be collected.
Mr Salerno said the whole issue was a failure of Mepa's internal communication and this was a a lesson to be learnt by all concerned.
Yesterday's dumping was stopped by Mepa officials as bathers expressed their disgust.
In a statement issued yesterday, Mepa said that some weeks back, the local council had requested authorization for the removal of sand from around the slipway in question. While the Authority did not object given that the activity was considered to be maintenance work, it however requested that prior to the works commencing, it (the council) was to provide the Authority with further relevant details. These details were never forthcoming from the local council.
Mepa said it strongly condemned the behaviour of the local council for carrying out this dumping activity without the necessary authorization and required monitoring.
in its reply, Mepa said that it never gave any form of authorization for the St Paul’s Bay Local Council to dump the sand and other objects it removed from a nearby slipway in Qawra.
"Unauthorised to carry out this dumping activity, the local council, yesterday, on its own initiative, decided to dump the sand and other material close to a popular bathing area," Mepa said.
"In an email dated, 01st August 2012, MEPA informed the local council that while it found no objection only for the sand to be removed from around the slipway, it requested the local council to notify it with the maximum volume of sand it intended to remove such that MEPA could assess the best way forward regarding the dumping/deposition activity. This information was not forthcoming," Mepa said.
"Instead of organising a press conference to try to justify its actions and shift the blame, the St Paul’s Bay local council should take the honorable way and make a public apology for its mistake in dumping the sand and other material without having the necessary clearance from the Authority.