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GIBRALTAR today

 

Tireless sails out of Gibraltar

The British nuclear submarine HMS Tireless, which has been the subject of controversial repairs at Gibraltar, sailed out of Gibraltar Monday morning after a stay of nearly a year. 

  There was a strong police presence ashore and afloat as two tugs pulled Tireless from its berth. Defence police patrol boats had been in the area since early morning. Two Spanish ecologists who dived into the sea  in the quay opposite Tireless were picked up by police. Sailors and others stood on the South Mole to bid Tireless farewell.

  Tireless limped into Gibraltar in May last year after developing a leak in its coolant system when out in the Mediterranean. Gibraltar was the nearest port, said naval sources here at the time.

  Initially, the defect was thought to be a 2mm crack on a weld in the nuclear compartment area, but subsequently another crack was discovered in what turned out to be a more complicated repair process. Methods were used which had not been used in British nuclear submarines before. This delayed the whole process.

  While the UK ministry of defence have at all times said that the repair would be safe, the Tireless provoked public protests in Gibraltar and more so in the Spanish hinterland.

  Fears centred in having a nuclear submarine repaired in a highly built-up area like Gibraltar, with Tireless berthed as close as 500 metres from civilian populated areas. To allay fears, the Gibraltar government hired a panel of UK nuclear experts at a cost of £115,000 to advise separately on each phase of the repair process.

  With the repairs successfully completed, the nuclear reactor was started-up last Tuesday, followed by the necessary preparations and machinery trials to go to sea on Monday. (07.05.01) 

Euro-court ruling builds on Gibraltar IRA case

   BRITAIN has been ordered by European judges to pay £10,000 each to the families of 10 members of the IRA killed by soldiers and police officers in Northern Ireland.
  A judgment by the Court of Human Rights found that the UK Government violated the human rights of the IRA men and two other people shot dead in four incidents.
 Eight were killed in an SAS ambush as they mounted a bomb attack on a part-time RUC police station at Loughgall, Co Armagh in l987. The other two IRA men were killed by police in shootings in Belfast and near Lurgan, Co Armagh, in l982 and l992, reports the Daily Telegraph.
 The Government was also ordered to pay £10,000 each to the families of a ninth casualty of the Loughgall shooting - an innocent man killed when soldiers took his passing vehicle to be part of the IRA operation - and a Sinn Fein member murdered by loyalists in 1991. In addition to compensation, the relatives were awarded a total of £105,000 towards legal costs.
  Seven judges in Strasbourg found a breach of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the grounds that the authorities failed to conduct proper investigations. The judgment applied to inquiry procedures rather than the deaths themselves and deliberately avoided the issue of whether the shootings were lawful or proportionate.
  The judgment builds on the ruling on the SAS killings of three IRA members in Gibraltar in 1988. In that case, the court said that there had to be an effective official investigation when individuals were killed by the use of lethal force, says the report. 

  Other UK press reports on the case include that in The Guardian which says: Six years ago, the court ruled that more force than absolutely necessary was used on 3 IRA  killed by the SAS in Gibraltar in 1988.  One upset after another, reports the Times.(05.05.01)

Harmful Taxes: Two OECD officials visit Gibraltar

Two senior officials from the organisation of Economic Cooperation and development (OECD) are in Gibraltar for a two-day visit as part of the ongoing dialogue between the Gibraltar government and the OECD on the 'harmful taxes' issue. They leave today.

  The OECD delegation, Torsten Fensby and Katrina Bekker-Wittur, has had technical discussions with Gibraltar government officials and has also met with the chief minister Peter Caruana and the minister for trade, industry and telecommunications Keith Azopardi., says a Gibraltar government statement.

  This is the first meeting in Gibraltar, as all prior meetings have been conducted in Paris or London. Mr Fensby said: "We are very impressed with what we have seen.  Gibraltar is a small territory but in our view is highly advanced, both economically and politically." (04.05.01)

 

Gib Gay Rights accuse Government of hypocrisy

  Gib Gay Rights (GGR) today criticised what it believes to be the Govenment's hypocrisy as reflected in the Chief Minister's May Day Message.
  "Mr Caruana is fishing for an image "makeover".
However no amount of public relations hype is capable
of patching over the truth: his Government is neither
interested in workers' rights nor in social issues."
  "The Chief Minister says he wants the growing economy to mean that Gibraltar progresses in all spheres "including social issues and conditions of
employment". This contrasts sharply with the reality:
to this date neither he nor his Government has shown
the slightest interest in Gibraltar's lesbian and gay
communities' just demand for social and employment
rights to be extended to the LGBT community. Worse
still, Mr Caruana and his Party stubbornly refuse to
face the facts: gays and lesbians are tax payers and
voters and they will not be content any more with his
style of stonewalling and homophobia," a spokesperson
for GGR said today.
  "GGR reminds Gibraltar's many gays and lesbians, their families and friends that to this date the GSLP/GLP
Alliance have also refused thus far to make any public
commitment to gay and lesbian equality. This fact must
not be forgotten either in future elections nor at any
other time in extending any support to these parties
when their attitudes and actions continually result in
real suffering for sexual minority groups who are your
friends or relatives. It is GGR's mission to uncover
the hypocrisy of political parties and politicians
until such time as they accept their accountability to
all Gibraltar's citizens without exclusion."(04.05.01)

Gibraltar and La Linea will go hand in hand touristically

  Gibraltar and La linea will go hand in hand touristically, says the La Linea councillor with tourism responsibilities Jose Luis Garcia Guillermo.

  He added that they are working in that respect. Gibraltar was nowadays dependent largely on day excursionists, while La Linea plans to expand to complement such traffic. He wants both cities to gain from tourism initiatives.

  He does not see competition but the contrary. For Gibraltar, La Linea will be complementary offering what Gibraltar lacks, such as "golf, culture, military sights and others.

The councillor said he has high hopes that great progress can be made.

  Anyone would think that Gibraltar has no culture or military history, more important indeed than anything La Linea can offer. (03.05.01) 

Government confirms chief minister had dinner with MPs

Gibraltar government sources have confirmed last night's Panorama report that the chief minister had gone to London on a lightning visit to have dinner with members of parliament.

  The dinner took place in the House of Commons, was hosted by the Gibraltar government and some 25 MPs attended, including the chairmen of the foreign affairs committee and the defence committee.

  The purpose of the visit was to brief MPs on a number of issues, as already reported. The issues included border delays, the Eurovote for Gibraltar and particularly telephone related problems. The other issues discussed were not mentioned, nor has it been denied that the EU single-sky issue was talked about.

  The Government source said that MPs were informed in detail on the current problem of telephone calls not reaching Gibraltar when routed via Spain.(03.05.01)

  

 

Integration with Spain would also be colonialism, says chief minister

The Gibraltar chief minister Peter Caruana says that integration of Gibraltar with Spain would also be colonialism.

  He was answering questions today from the Spanish daily Cambio16. Told that the Spanish government thinks it is a complete anachronism for a colony to exist in the European Union, Mr Caruana said that Spain cannot complain about colonialism and at the same time reject a change to the status quo of Gibraltar. On the other hand, he added, the integration of Gibraltar in the Spanish territory would also be a form of colonialism.

  Mr Caruana said that the present Gibraltar constitution was being modified. It was 35 years old, and that was a long time in colonial terms - no other British colony has been without constitutional development for such a long time.

  Questioned about the planned changes giving Gibraltar greater self-government in military and foreign affairs, Mr Caruana replied: yes, but we do not want to change the status quo. We want more autonomous rights, but the reform does not demand independence. We are and we will continue to be a British colony.

  Mr Caruana said he could not understand the tough line by the Spanish foreign minister Josef Pique. 
The chief minister goes on to defend Gibraltar as a financial centre, speaking of very strict laws and how well regulated it was.  He would be prepared to meet with Sr Pique at any time..

  Spain would not be mentioned in the new constitution  as it was a purely British instrument about relations between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom.

  But the Spanish constitution refers to Gibraltar, he was told. Well, it should not, retorted Mr Caruana, who then went on to say that Ireland had dropped its constitutional claim to Northern Ireland. Territorial claims have no place in modern constitutions. (02.05.01) 

Lightning visit by chief minister to UK to appraise MPs: Storm ahead?

by JOE GARCIA

 

The chief minister Peter Caruana is making a lightning visit to London to brief members of parliament on current problems.

  A two-line Press release from the chief minister's office this afternoon announced the visit. He will be back tomorrow morning, in time to continue the current session of the House of Assembly.

  The brief government statement in full: "The chief minister has left for London today where he will brief MPs about various issues affecting Gibraltar.  The chief minister returns to Gibraltar tomorrow morning."

  A main pending issue is that of the European single-sky initiative which was blocked at the last EU summit by Britain after Gibraltar insisted that it cannot be excluded from European measures, which are hers as of right, like the rest of the EU.

  At that meeting the Spaniards proposed their usual formula of leaving Gibraltar out until Gibraltar accepted the joint use with Spain of the Gibraltar airport. British officials said at the time that Gibraltar could not be systematically excluded from all EU measures.

  Subsequently, UK prime minister Tony Blair has urged that a solution acceptable to all be found - and a procession of Foreign Office mandarins and have been to-ing and fro-ing from London, with the message machines also  kept busy.

  The Gibraltar government, and other political parties, are opposed to the 1987 airport deal signed by Britain and Spain, which provides for the joint use of the Gibraltar airport.  Gibraltar considers that the deal impinges on sovereignty matters. Spain claims the airport separately to the rest of Gibraltar.

  However, it would not be outside the aims of the UK foreign office to try to implant a 'global agreement' that would iron out specific differences.

  Other urgent issues include telephone problems due to a Spanish negative attitude, which sees the Gibraltar code 350 as an advance of independence for Gibraltar.     

  The fact that the chief minister wants to brief MPs is seen in political circles here as indicating that seemingly intractable problems may be brewing up and hence the friendly and strong lobby of MPs at Westminster are being alerted of possible problems ahead, so that when they happen they will be well-versed on what is happening behind the scenes at present. It may also be a warning shot at the British government, which would wish to avoid a row over Gibraltar ahead of the UK general election.

  A dinner appointment with friendly MPs, to opportunely appraise them of upcoming issues, is possibly how the chief minister would describe his lightning visit to London. (02.05.01)  

Government confirms Tireless start-up!

  The Gibraltar government today confirmed that the nuclear reactor of HMS Tireless was yesterday 1st May started up as programmed. The news of the start-up was carried by PANORAMA yesterday, quoting Spanish government sources.

  Although it has taken the Government a day to provide the news, it is better than the UK ministry of defence here who keep saying that this is a routine matter. They are refusing to give details.

  The government, in a brief statement, said "the reactor had been taken up to its normal operating temperature and pressure over the weekend.  This was followed by pre-reactor start-up checks on Monday and reactor start-up on Tuesday."

  The government says it understands that the necessary preparations and machinery trials to go to sea will now continue as programmed.

  This afternoon another tug entered the submarine exclusion zone. A tug is permanently anchored against the submarine itself. (02.05.01) 

Heritage awards

This year's  heritage awards were announced today. The group heritage award goes to Bayside Comprehensive School in recognition of its millennium project 'Living History: Memories of the Evacuation.'

  The senior individual award goes to Mr Freddie Gomez "for his enthusiasm and single-minded dedication to the restoration and preservation of Flat Bastion magazine."

  And the junior award goes to the pupils of Bayside Comprehensive School "for the central part they played in the millennium project 'Living History: Memories of the Evacuation.'

  The awards will be presented by heritage minister Keith Azopardi on Tuesday 8 May at the John Mackintosh Hall, in conjunction with the prize-giving and official opening of the annual heritage painting exhibition. (02.05.01) 

Is somebody looking into your bank account?

"The highly respected Gibraltar weekly Panorama recently ran the following piece entitled 'The Scandal of the Authorities Prying into Private Bank Accounts'," writes David Eade in the Costa Del Sol and Costa Blanca News, who then goes on to reproduce our recent disclosures. He then highlights the case of a woman living in the Campo area who has a Gibraltar bank account...

This is what he writes: Let me add my own ha'penth worth this time involving the Spanish instead of the British authorities! A case has been brought to my attention of a woman living in the Campo de Gibraltar area who is officially resident in Spain (i.e. she has a residencia) but also has a Gibraltar bank account.

Now one major bank that I know of posts all its communications to its Spanish based clients from across the border in La Linea and in plain envelopes to boot. It would appear that this woman's bank sent her statements to her from Gibraltar itself in marked envelopes.

It would further appear that the Spanish tax authorities somehow learnt that she was receiving frequent correspondence from a Gibraltar bank. I wonder how? By hook or by crook her mail was then intercepted and the tax authorities built up a file on her financial affairs. Obviously to achieve that they would have needed the assistance of the post office or urbanisation office officials. In the end event, she was jumped on and handed a hefty tax bill on her offshore earnings.

Now in this instance the Spanish tax authorities would no doubt justify their actions by saying this woman was evading tax. But what if you were declaring your offshore income? Or perhaps you are resident in Spain and had innocently registered with a Gibraltar financial institution an interest in their products and had asked to be kept informed of any financial seminars held on the Costa? How could you be sure in either of those cases that the Spanish authorities weren't monitoring your mail? How could you be sure that 'somebody' hadn't reported you too? Makes you think doesn't it?

Indeed our own Bill Blevins of Blevins Franks International warned in an interview on OCI this week that banks in Gibraltar are now duty bound to inform the authorities of the country their customers are resident in if they have reason to believe that they are evading their tax liabilities or laundering money. That ruling now applies to many offshore financial centres and the banks are forbidden by law to tip off their customers if their affairs are being investigated.

(02.05.01)


Tireless start-up took place today, says Spanish Government

The start-up of the nuclear reactor of HMS Tireless took place this morning, said the Spanish Government.

  The latest statement from the UK ministry of defence in Gibraltar was that they could not confirm when the start-up would take place. They said it would be a routine operation.

  The MOD last week informed the Gibraltar government that Tireless would be conducting preparations for reactor operation from 30th April followed by start-up. When the Gibraltar government requested further information it was stated that the reactor would be started up on Tuesday 1st May and that the vessel would sail on or about 7th May.

  Today the Madrid statement said that low power tests had been carried out, adding that it was a routine operation.

  For its part, the Spanish council for nuclear safety said that the British had kept them fully informed at all times, adding that the council would keep track of the levels of radiation in the nearby Spanish Campo area whilst the reactor tests were in progress.

  Meanwhile, members of the anti-Tireless submarine platform in the Campo have today started a hunger strike of indefinite duration protesting against Tireless.

  The nuclear submarine has been in Gibraltar since last May after it developed a leak in its coolant system when out in the Mediterranean. (01.05.01) 

UK hospital OK

Following reports about standards of hygiene in St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, London, a hospital spokesman says that he "cannot recall a single complaint from your patients over the past few months relating to cleaning standards."

  While it is admitted that the hospital has had its problems in the past, it has embarked on a programme to ensure that cleaning levels are increased.

  Gibraltar sponsored patients are regular users of this hospital. Joe Smyth, Private/Gibraltar Patients Manager at the hospital, says: "There is a noticeable difference in the hospital of late."

  Commenting on UK media reports slating the hospital, which have been reproduced here, he says it is interesting that an article should also have appeared in the Daily Mail "listing St Mary's as one of the top hospitals in UK with an impressive clinical record. In addition the hospital received much praise in the Daily Mirror for its contribution to the community. They ran a centre page spread on the work of individuals in the Trust."

  The hospital has employed a new contractor and invested a considerable sum in improving services and cleaning standards. This contract has just started "and we all look forward to a much enhanced service."

  Smyth tells the Gibraltar Health Authority: "St Mary's is committed to providing a high quality service to our local community and to the people of Gibraltar.  We are proud of our association and I look forward to visiting you again once our new contracted has bedded in."(01.05.01)


START-UP!
7-Day countdown as nuclear testing begins

With the start-up of the nuclear reactor, a 7-day countdown begins in what is the most critical stage in the long repair process of HMS Tireless.

What was first officially described as a small 2 mm crack, ended up being a far more complex operation which required experimenting with methods not previously used in a British nuclear submarine.

Now comes the start-up of the reactor and the testing of the reactor and propulsion plants. While other tests have been undertaken, the propulsion system cannot be rigorously checked for operation without the supply of nuclear-generated steam.

During the power operation that now begins, partial failure of the repaired weld which resulted in a leak would be detected by the submarine's instrumentation, as was the original leak that led to the submarine coming to Gibraltar for this prolong period of repairs.

The original nuclear scare in the middle of the Mediterranean happened "when the joint underwent significant temperature cycling during reactor power changes, leading to thermal stress fatigue," say the nuclear experts.

NUCLEAR RISKS TO THE PUBLIC

Consideration was given by the experts "of the nuclear risks to members of the public should the weld fail (partially or totally) after reactor start-up, including the likelihood of fuel melt with the released fission products escaping from the containment provided by the submarine hull."

Reports have claimed that during the original leak Tireless was hours from meltdown.

In the case of partial failure, the experts say that "the released coolant water would be mildly radioactive and would again remain contained within the reactor compartment.

Based on what the nuclear experts are saying JOE GARCIA looks ahead...

Total failure of the weld during power operation at or near Gibraltar is considered "unlikely" by the experts. If it were to happen, "the resulting leak and associated pressure transient within the reactor compartment would be less than the worst accident considered in the submarine safety case."

The relatively short duration (about 7 days) of low power operation at Gibraltar following a long shutdown period means that decay heat levels (less than 80 kw) would be significantly lower than the worst accident.

Following such a leak, the reactor would be automatically shut down and the crew would have to provide further coolant water to the reactor.

The experts say that, because of the low decay heat, "there would he no realistic opportunity for the fuel to melt provided the procedures were correctly implemented."

As a back-up, any fission products released from the fuel would be contained by the submarine pressure hull, they say, and the available fission product inventory in the fuel (after a prolonged shut down) would anyway be considerably less than that available in a submarine on a recreational visit.

The experts conclude that a limited weld failure during reactor operation "could be safely withstood and confident that complete weld failure would not result in a significant radiological release to the public."

The power and propulsion plant cannot be tested until steam from reactor operation is available, which is why the startup of the reactor is being undertaken.

Non-nuclear faults

Non-nuclear faults, which are described as "minor", are expected to emerge, given the long period the submarine has been out of service. The MOD anticipate that it may take several days to find and correct such faults, during the 7-day countdown that now begins.

If such faults are found, it follows that the Tireless might stay here for a few more days than at present expected, hence the reason why the MOD says that Tireless is expected to sail away "approximately" one week after reactor start-up

NEXT: Those drums full of radioactive waste

Throughout the long repair process, radioactive waste has been contained in drums lying near the submarine.

Some weeks after Tireless departs, this radioactive waste will have be attended to. As with everything else, the anticipated radioactive waste has increased… to about 24 cubic metres of contaminated primary circuit water falling into the low level waste category, to just under one cubic metre of low activity liquid waste and to about 24 cubic metres of low level or very low level solid waste.

Waste is transferred to what a known as the "Active Waste Management Facility" The MOD are said to have in place measures to minimize the possibility and quantity of spillage , which experts suggest put the risks as 'very low'.

After the departure of Tireless, the RFA Fort Rosalie will be berthed opposite the AWM. The drums, which are stored on pallets, will be hoisted aboard using cranes suitable for conducting lifts of radioactive materials.

Likewise the so-called primary effluent tanks - used for 'temporary storage on the mole - will be hoisted on board. The cranes will be proof-tested at 25% above the weight to he lifted. to avoid a dangerous situation arising should there he an accident.

Once all the stored waste has been removed, the areas affected waste will have to be surveyed raid sampled for the presence of radioactive contamination . If all is well, a certificate will be issued some 2 weeks later.

Sensational disclosures: UK Transport Contractor was tobacco smuggler and Customs informer

A UK transport contractor, who was involved in freight forwarding to Gibraltar at one time, has been jailed in Britain in a tobacco smuggling case. The man also worked for UK Customs as an informer, and to protect his identity, was described as 'Mr H' during the trial.

A Gibraltar transport company, which we will not name, confirmed that 'Mr H' owned a transport company which they had used to have cargo delivered to Gibraltar. This in no way suggests that the local company was aware of what 'Mr H' was up to before, during or after the Gibraltar cargo work. A spokesman said that 'Mr H' had never been their employee.

Through his business, he moved cigarettes from bonded premises in the UK and distributed them in Spain, it was said in court.

His lavish lifestyle led to Inland Revenue investigating him for alleged tax fraud by not disclosing profits for tax purposes between 1991 and 1998.

The man claimed he had been a registered informer for Customs and Excise and had been given immunity from paying tax. The jury heard that indeed he had been an informer and had provided Customs and excise with information for a number of years, but numerous Customs witnesses gave evidence that the man had never been given immunity. In fact he had a signed document accepting that he would be prosecuted if he did anything wrong.

The man's name cannot be disclosed due to reporting restrictions having been placed, with which we abide as a responsible newspaper. Throughout the proceedings, he was known as 'Mr H'.

He had spent £192,500 on a home, £150,000 on a boat and $59,000 on a Mercedes car. Inland revenue officers investigated him over alleged tax fraud of £500,000. He was a Customs informer as he carried out his illegal business.

During April 1994 and April 1996 alone, 'Mr H' exchanged £877, 000 worth of Spanish pesetas into Sterling, it was claimed.

He alleged that Customs officers gave him permission to take part in smuggling and promised him amnesty from paying revenue. But Mr Michael Forster, prosecuting, told the jury Mr H was repeatedly told by his handlers he must not smuggle cigarettes and must not commit revenue offences."

A former worker of his claimed in court that Mr H was earning up to £40,000 per load.

A business partner said he had agreed to help him with the cigarette operation and that the first shipment he had any hand in left for Spain on March 5, 1996. He was ultimately to receive £4,290 per load for each of 17 successive shipments. He thought it was a perfectly legitimate operation. He spoke of false descriptions being given to ferry companies.

Another witness, an undercover Customs investigator, told how he was introduced to two groups of alleged cannabis traffickers by Mr H. Speaking from behind a screen to protect his identity, the Customs investigator said: "I had contact with him as he was going to make an introduction between myself and a criminal group, the introduction was to take place on Gibraltar."

He added: "A series of discussions followed with these individuals. We had been told that these people were involved in the smuggling of cannabis from Gibraltar to the UK"

Mr H said he had held 100 meetings with a customs agent known as M. "My motivation," he said, "was to be able to continue running my business which was smuggling tobacco into Spain. I thought British customs could help me with the smooth running of getting these high value goods out of the country. The customs officers' attitude was that as long as I didn't throw egg in their faces or embarrass them and as long as I didn't bring anything into the UK without their authority, then that was OK."

He added: In Spain cigarette smuggling is on the fringe of the drug smuggling operation and customs wanted information on these.

The jury found Mr H guilty after failing to pay more than £200,000 income tax. In passing sentence, Justice Wiggs took this into account. Mr H was jailed for 3 years.


The INVESTIGATION

In carrying out this investigation, PANORAMA has been in touch with UK Customs and Excise, the UK Inland Revenue, the Crown Court. court transcriber, and Daily Echo Bournemouth and a Gibraltar transport Company.

The trial judge Justice Wiggs declined to authorise a transcript of his summing-up, which is the first time that we come up against readily available information made in public in court being denied to a newspaper whose only aim is to provide as accurate an account of the trial as possible.

We have information that the case started without any reporting restrictions, and it was rather belatedly, that the judge decided that the informer should be known as Mr H. 

Inland Revenue said they could not supply any more information as 'his people' did not want to talk about such a sensitive issue as informers.

Customs and Excise said that they did not normally talk about cases involving informers but had made an exception in this case.

Some expressed surprise that the trial judge should refuse to provide information.

Over 300 questions for House

The House of Assembly meets this afternoon at 3.00 pm with the Opposition being given the second opportunity this year to table questions to the Government. A total of 357 questions on various matters of public interest have been tabled.

The Leader of the Opposition Joe Bossano will be asking the Government whether the cost of rebuilding the frontier fence will be met b the MOD. He will also quiz the Chief Minister on the HMS Tireless issue, the border delays and the inclusion of Gibraltar airport into the Single European Sky Mr Bossano will also be asking what action has been taken to ensure that judgements of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar can be enforced in Spain and wants to know whether the Gibraltar Government has now been informed by London that they will not be seeking the implementation of The 1987 airport agreement. Opposition Member for Trade, Industry and Tourism Dr Joseph Garcia, who alone has tabled over 120 questions, will be asking the Government about the new tourism ventures initiated in La Linea and their effect on Gibraltar. Dr Garcia will be asking questions on offshore betting, the Gun Wharf tender, the coach park and Upper Rock fees, and has several questions relating to the Government's position paper on the OECD and other tax initiatives. Mr Pepe Baldachino will be asking questions on social services including what the criteria is in considering applications for disability allowance and the cost per bed in the Elderly Care Agency Dr Valarino will ask, among other issues, about the new lifts at Glacis Estate and how many tenants at Edinburgh House are on rent relief With regard to GBC, Opposition spokesman for Government services Juan Carlos Perez asks how many new employees have been taken on by GBC to date as a result of the relaunch, and also wants to know what recommendations have been made given the level of the subvention. He also has questions about the Gibtel/Nynex merger and the question of telephone numbers. Health spokesperson Marie Montegriffo has tabled questions about sponsored patients, house calls, and a permanent Radiologist.

Meanwhile, Education spokesman Steven Linares will be asking about the change of school hours the, Education Psychologist and the regulating of nurseries.

We are antinuclear, says ILF

The Independent Liberal Forum has today confirmed its overall anti-nuclear attitude. I.L.F. Leader Lyana Armstrong-Emery commented on her Party's policy, saying

"We are unambiguously antinuclear. Not only have we consistently opposed the presence of HMS Tireless here but we also object to all forms of nuclear energy, power or weapons in Gibraltar or indeed, anywhere else.

In addition, we recognise that the nuclear issue is only a part of the wider pattern of current environmental and social dangers. It also includes pollution, resource depletion and the unsustainable nature of so much of industrial practice.

These things are not restricted by international frontiers. Our party therefore welcomes the recently announced cross-border cooperation of local pressure groups in Gibraltar such as E. S. G. and G.O.N.H.S. in working with Gibraltar's neighbours to combat these common problems."

Lyana concluded by reminding readers that her party's goal of Gibraltar's devolved integration with the U.K. does of course imply eventual I.L.F. involvement with anti-nuclear and environmentalist movements in Britain and Europe as well as this part of the world.

Former Dean of Gibraltar dies

The Very Reverend Henry Lloyd, one-time dean of Gibraltar, has died. He was dean for 10 years.

With a wartime military background, he was delighted when appointed dean in 1950. He initiated the commemoration of the Battle of Trafalgar and had the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity refurbished. He was 89.

Jewish professor dies

Jewish professor Naphtali Wieder died in Jesuralem last month. A leading figure in the world of Jewish scholarship, his Gibraltar connection was through his marriage, in 1951, to Merita Levy.

Over £8 million for airfield

Over £8 million are to be invested in refurbishing the airfield at Gibraltar, which is run by the Royal Air Force, although it doubles as Gibraltar's civil airport.

  Although the runway is in good condition, with the exception of the road to Spain that rans over it, areas in its periphery are in need of resurfacing.

  The airfield was last attended to in a big way several decades ago. Daily, however, maintenance schemes fill up any cracks and remove any weeds.

  This is a peculiar airfield, extended into the sea during the second World War with rubble from excavating tunnels inside the Rock. Landing and take-off is from east or west - in either case coming in from the sea.

  To make it more unusual, the busy road to and from Spain - the only road linking Gibraltar to the Spanish mainland - cuts across the runway.  Whenever an aircraft movement is due, the road if shut to traffic.

  Civilian flights use the airfield daily, while military aircraft are also regular visitors. (29.04.01) 

Rock vegetation research should elicit scientific interest

Research into the vegetation of the Rock of Gibraltar has just been published. It was undertaken by the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens in association with the Laboratorio de Botanica of the university of San Pablo in Madrid.

  The work describes in detail the major plant communities found on the Rock and describes eighteen new plant associations, previously unknown to science, and which now carry the authors' names as the describing authorities.

  The research highlights the unique nature of Gibraltar's vegetation, which is different from that of all other areas and which in many cases has affinities further north and east in the Iberian peninsula and, notable, to sites in North Africa.

  There have been several other qualitative studies carried out in the past but this new publication, The Vegetation of the Rock of Gibraltar, sets this out in purely scientific terms and will arouse great interest in botanists working on the plants of the Mediterranean region and, more specifically, the Iberian peninsula.

  The authors are Dr John Cortes from the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens and Inigo Sanches from the Jardin Botanico Alberto Duran in Jerez. (29.04.01) 

Strong Spanish reaction against Tireless start-up

  The news hat the reactor in the nuclear submarine Tireless is to be started-up on 1st May at Gibraltar has provoked a strong reaction in the Spanish neighbourhood.

  Spanish ecologists have built what they have termed a 'Noah Ark' which is sailing out of the area as a symbolic evacuation to draw attention to the start-up. It carries children, animals and plants from the Spanish neighbourhood.

  The anti-Tireless platform said the start-up was bad news for the Spanish campo area and for neighbourly relations between them and Gibraltar.  Both the Spanish and the UK government had ignored public protests and gone ahead with the start-up, said a spokesman.

  Meanwhile, the Andalusian regional government have reacted strongly against the Madrid government, saying it is shameful that the Spanish government has done nothing to defend Spaniards living near Gibraltar.

  The Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar said this week that the Spanish government can do nothing to stop nuclear submarines visiting Gibraltar, given that Gibraltar is British sovereign territory.

  In Gibraltar yesterday it was officially announced that start-up of the nuclear reactor will take place on Tuesday 1st May and that the submarine is expected to sail away about a week later.  Tireless has been in Gibraltar for nearly a year, after developing a leak in its coolant system when out in the Mediterranean. Repairs concluded this week with hydrotesting of the repaired cracked weld. (28.04.01) 

OFFICIAL: Tireless reactor start-up on 1st May plus background report

  The nuclear reactor in HMS Tireless will be started up next Tuesday, 1st May, it was officially stated tonight.

  The submarine will sail on or about 7th May, which is earlier than previously anticipated.

  A statement from the Gibraltar government said: "The MOD has informed the Gibraltar government that HMS Tireless will be conducting preparations for reactor operation from 30th April followed by start-up.  MOD expects HMS Tireless to sail approximately one week later.  Following contacts with MOD and the Convent, the government understands that the reactor will be started up on Tuesday 1st May and that the vessel will sail on or about 7th May." 

 

BACKGROUND TO START-UP

 

  The repairs to the submarine has included extensive analysis, testing, preparation, radiography and surface crack detection, as well as ultrasonic examination and a pressure test, says a report by nuclear experts hired by the Gibraltar government.

  During the reactor power operation, partial failure of the repaired weld resulting in a leak would be detected by the submarine's instrumentation, say the nuclear experts, as was the case with the original leak, when the submarine was out in the Mediterranean almost a year ago.

  If there were another leak after start-up, the released coolant water would be mildly reactive and would remain contained within the reactor compartment.

  Experts say that "in the very unlikely event of total failure of the weld during power operation at or near Gibraltar, the resulting leak and associated pressure transient within the reactor compartment would be less than the worst accident considered in the submarine safety case."

  After start-up, the reactor will be operated for about a week before leaving Gibraltar. The risks posed by the operation are considered to be no greater than those posed by a submarine on a recreational visit, say the experts.(27.04.01/updated 28.04.01)

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