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Mayors say shipyard must not put health of residents at risk

Cottonera’s leaders not against Palumbo works if precautions are taken

Cospicua residents claimed their cars were damaged near Palumbo Shipyard. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Cospicua residents claimed their cars were damaged near Palumbo Shipyard. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Three Cottonera mayors are insisting that Palumbo Shipyard must take all the precautions necessary to ensure residents’ health and property is not put at risk by works carried out in the area.

The mayors are concerned that small particles released into the air may be detrimental to public health

The mayors of Cospicua, Senglea and Vittoriosa – Joseph Scerri, Justin Camilleri and John Boxall – stressed they were not against works being carried out at the shipyard as long as precautionary measures were taken.

However, they said the shipyard did not seem to be respecting regulations on grit blasting, which state that this can only be carried out in one specific dock and when the wind did not blow in the direction of inhabited areas.

Grit blasting consists of copper particles blasted on to ships to remove paint and rust, leaving a smooth, clean surface.

The mayors have expressed concern that small particles released into the air may be detrimental to people’s health and are causing damage to property such as buildings and cars.

Just over a week ago some 150 Cospicua residents claimed their cars were damaged when a large Italian ship was grit blasted and spray painted at the Palumbo Shipyard.

Their vehicles were coated in fine specks of white paint, resembling dust. Residents filed police reports and took their cars to the city’s police station for inspection.

A few days later about 100 Palumbo workers organised a demonstration outside the shipyard during their lunch break to contest claims their work had damaged the cars.

They said they did not want to lose their jobs as their families’ livelihoods depended on their work.

Following the residents’ complaints a Palumbo spokesman said the shipyard was working “to understand the nature of the issue” and a meeting had been set up with the mayors.

However, when contacted Mr Scerri said he had not heard from Palumbo.

He said the shipyard had to ensure it respected regulations on grit blasting.

This was only meant to take place in Dock 6; however, the Italian ship was being worked on in another dock.

Mr Scerri added that according to regulations, Palumbo should not carry out works when the wind blows in the direction of residential housing. Over the past days this regulation had been ignored.

Mr Camilleri and Mr Boxall said residents also suffered damage following works on an Italian ship. Mr Camilleri said he had contacted Palumbo after the incident and a meeting was set for this week.

Mr Boxall had written to Palumbo, holding the company responsible for damage.

Palumbo, he said, replied that no works were carried out during that period when the cars were damaged and asked for a meeting.

Mr Boxall turned down the invite as, he said, it was clear that Palumbo was set on denying responsibility.

The Times sent questions to Palumbo asking whether it would assume responsibility for damage caused and whether meetings with the mayors were held.

A spokesman said: “We are having meetings this week and investigating the matter.”

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