Almancil landfill fire continues to burn one month later

It’s been over a month since a fire broke out at a landfill at Vale da Venda in Almancil (Loulé), and still it continues to burn.

The owner of the landfill – company Inertegarve, which has already lost its licence due to the incident – is being pressured from all sides to extinguish the fire once and for all. However, days keep going by and potentially toxic smoke continues to reach nearby communities.

ARS Algarve – the region’s public health authority – has released a statement ordering the company to put out the fire following air quality tests carried out at the behest of the regional development commission CCDR Algarve.

The tests found that the smoke coming from the landfill has higher levels ofPM10 particles and benzene” – potentially hazardous substances – than are normally found in the air.

One local resident told TVI how she has been unable to open her windows at home since the fire began due to the “unbearable smell”, while clients from local cafés and restaurants have also complained about the constant stench coming from the landfill.

Faro Mayor Rogério Bacalhau has described the fire as an “environmental crime” but lamented that authorities have been powerless so far, as the landfill is private property. He also said the number of people contacting the local council to complain has been growing by the day, as the fumes also spread to the neighbouring borough of Faro.

Loulé Mayor Vítor Aleixo has taken a harsher stance, promising to act by next week if the owner fails to do so.

“We have a report saying that dangerous fumes are being released there. We have an intimidating statement from the regional health delegate. So, the entrepreneur does not have any other way of delaying this. He has to put out the fire,” Aleixo told SIC this week.

If the fire continues into next week, the council is considering taking matters into its own hands by putting out the fire using its own resources and later billing the owner for the costs.

The mayor has also pointed out that the landfill – which is licensed to receive construction waste – has been found to also receive other waste, such as plastic and varnishes, stressed Aleixo.

According to SIC, PJ criminal police are already involved and are investigating whether any criminal activity was behind the start of the fire.

A similar fire had already broken out at the landfill in 2011, lasting 16 days.

By Michael Bruxo