Cimpor awaits decision from Loulé Câmara


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CIMPOR, THE Loulé based cement factory in Cerro do Parragil, close to the A22 near Boliqueime, is awaiting a decision from Loulé Câmara in order to go forward with its co-incineration project at the plant.

The public discussion phase of the approval process is now over and the company is waiting to receive permission to install the machines and equipment to co-incinerate vegetable and animal waste. Cimpor’s aim is to substitute a proportion of the fossil fuels currently used in the cement ovens with animal and vegetable waste which, according to the company, reduces pollutant gases by 10 per cent.

In a statement made by António Santos of Cimpor’s PR department, the company confirms that it is waiting to receive the licence from Loulé Câmara, but that it is unaware of the date by which this should be received. “Only after we get this licence, which is necessary for us to begin installing the necessary equipment, and only after a final inspection, can Cimpor obtain the licence to begin this activity,” he revealed.

Despite having received favourable judgements from the Ministries for the Environment and Economy, the project has attracted strong criticism in the Algarve, with many senior figures considering co-incineration to be incompatible with the region’s tourism industry (see related article in the September 28 issue of The Resident).

Hélder Martins, president of Região de Turismo do Algarve, the Algarve Tourism Board, MPs for the Algarve, including Social Democrat José Mendes Bota and Macário Correia, president of AMAL, the entity representing the interests of the Algarve’s 16 councils, have all expressed their concern over the project due to environmental issues and the negative visual impact it would have on the area.

Os Verdes, the Green Party in Portugal are also worried about the project and representatives were set to meet with the administration of Cimpor last week in order to find out more about the project and the company’s longterm intentions. However, according to Os Verdes, on the day of their visit to Loulé, Cimpor refused to hold the meeting.

The party’s representatives went ahead with their planned meetings at the regional branches of environmental groups, QUERCUS, the Liga para a Protecção da Natureza (LPN) and with Macário Correia.

Following the meeting with Macário Correia, Green MP, Francisco Madeira Lopes commented: “Above all, we need to have more information about the issue of co-incineration in Loulé. This lack of information accompanies the fear that what starts out to be the burning of animal and vegetable waste could degenerate into the burning of other types of waste, including hazardous industrial waste.”

Concerted effort needed

It is a very political issue and AMAL’s position on the matter was made clear. The councils of the Algarve must support the president of Loulé Câmara, Serúca Emídio. “AMAL believes that the Algarve câmaras can do a little more here, this is not only in the hands of Loulé Câmara. The other câmara presidents can, at the very least, request clarification of this matter,” he said. “Effort has to be made not only at regional level, but also at a national one, so that the truth regarding this issue is known,” said Madeira Lopes.

Open days

In an effort to eliminate the mistrust pervading the company, Cimpor organised open days between October 9 and 13, to let the public come and see what its plans are and to clarify its intentions for the future.

Residents from the Vale Judeu area, in the vicinity of the plant, who are worried about the longterm plans of the cement factory were among the visitors. They were assured by the director of Cimpor, Hélio Viero, that the company has no plans to burn hazardous industrial waste at the plant. He told them that the equipment for burning this type of waste is different to that which the company would use to burn animal and vegetable waste and that, in any case, in order to burn hazardous waste, not only would new equipment need to be installed, but an environmental impact study and public discussion phase be carried before any licence request would be considered for the installation of equipment or the activity itself. He also highlighted the fact that there would be no economic advantages for the company to burn hazardous waste at the plant.


Despite these assurances, what has caused most alarm is the fact that it has come to light that the Ministries for the Environment and Economy had been dealing with the request from Cimpor to burn animal and vegetable waste at the plant for some length of time before the president of Loulé Câmara was informed. This has aroused suspicion among entities and the general public in the Algarve.

The request to practise co-incineration at the plant had already been approved by the government before the licence request to install the equipment had been submitted to Loulé Câmara.

However, by law, this is normal procedure. Any company that wishes to burn waste must first seek authorisation from the government before applying for a license to install the equipment from the local câmara.

It remains clear though that Loulé Câmara does hold the trump card because the co-incineration activity can only begin once the installation licence is issued.

The Resident contacted Loulé Câmara to ascertain the current status of the approval process and was told: “The case is currently being analysed and a decision has not been made yet. An official decision will be announced over the coming days, during the month of November.”