Clean-up mission accomplished

By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

A countrywide clean-up operation on Saturday saw around 100,000 people collecting more than 20,000 tonnes of rubbish.

Volunteers all over Portugal participated in the Limpar Portugal (Clean Portugal) operation, clearing dumped waste from large areas of the countryside.

As well as being an eyesore, the majority of the items collected can lead to serious environmental problems, namely the contamination of soils by hazardous waste, pollution of water resources, especially underground, and degradation of natural habitats.

Patrícia Fava, Portimão and Algarve coordinator for the civic movement, told the Algarve Resident: “The day went much better than expected. I was not counting on the campaign mobilising so many volunteers.”

She said that there were around 3,000 volunteers, 300 organisations and 200 vehicles involved in the Algarve, collecting around 1,000 tonnes of illegally dumped waste and rubbish.

Lagos city council collected 219 tonnes of rubbish, using 480 volunteers spread out over 70 sites chosen for the clearing. The rubbish was taken to ALGAR, the company responsible for solid waste treatment in the region.

A spokesman from environmental association Almargem said: “Rarely has such a large number of people embraced a voluntary activity. As well as being a generous action, Limpar Portugal highlighted quite clearly the potential of volunteering and the concerns citizens have regarding the waste problem in Portugal.”

Isilda Gomes, Faro Civil Governor, who had participated in the parish of Ferragudo in Lagoa council, said: “The clearing of natural areas is vital for the preservation of the environment and everyone’s quality of life.”

The Mayor of Faro, Macário Correia, told news agency Lusa: “It’s an act of great merit, placing thousands of people working voluntarily in the cleaning of forests and the surrounding areas of cities. It is an initiative by the Portuguese population, based on a very good idea.”

At the Pinhal de São Brazão, in Colares, Sintra, the President of the Republic, Cavaco Silva, helped volunteers collect tyres, plastic, furniture, vehicles, rubble and other debris dumped illegally.

“It’s amazing,” he said when confronted with the quantity and variety of rubble.

The President, accompanied by his four grandchildren, his daughter Patrícia and his wife Maria, said: “The most important thing now is not to let this happen again, so that in future it’s not necessary to organise another Limpar Portugal.”

Environment Minister Dulce Pássaro also helped out by collecting garbage at Pinhal do Rei, in Marinha Grande.

She told Lusa: “There are mountains of rubbish in the woods, which is entirely preventable. This only happens due to ignorance or lack of civic responsibility.”