Barreiro container terminal ‘stopped’ due to major environmental risks

Italian rubbish exporter sues Portugal for €8 million over ‘tons of waste’ country no longer wants

Italian ‘environmental solutions’ company Enki Ambiente has reacted very badly to Portugal’s decision to block all imports of foreign rubbish during the pandemic (click here).

It has lodged an action against the State, claiming €8 million in damages.

The reason is that Enki has a contract with the Italian province of Campania to remove ‘urban waste’. The plan was to remove it to Portugal where it would go into one of the country’s landfills sites. With Portugal’s sudden u-turn (back in May), Enki was left with a distinctly unpleasant, and potentially very expensive, problem.

For many years Campania’s waste was a murky business involving the Camorra (mafia). 

It’s unclear how ‘safe’ waste is that comes from Italy which is why at the start of the pandemic environmentalists and populations upped the pressure on Portugal to start blocking it.

The argument was that Portugal’s landfills – which have been taking foreign trash from several different countries – should only take Portuguese rubbish (otherwise they would simply fill up too quickly).

But Enki wants to be compensated for the break in its conveyor belt of waste management.

Explains Observador, Enki’s case “contests the legality” of Portugal’s decision, taken by the Council of Ministers. (The decision involved suspending all foreign waste imports for a year while environment agency APA made a report on the amount of space left in landfill sites generally. The decision has already cost Portugal well over €2 million click here)

Says the online, Enki is not simply calling for €8 million in compensation. It seems to be demanding that APA “adopts the necessary conduct to reestablish the rights and interests violated by illegal administrative acts”. 

In other words, it wants the green-light to send the rest of the rubbish piled up waiting for burial to Portugal.

Observador has been in touch with Enki, based near Milan – and the lawyer who represents them, former PSD MP José Eduardo Martins, but neither would “provide further information”.

Portugal isn’t the only country to have called a halt on Italian rubbish.

Says the report: “in November Tunisia refused to allow 280 container ships from Italy to unload their cargo and opened an investigation into the illegal importation of what was described as ‘urban waste’ but which according to the local press included toxic material from hospitals”.

In the past, the Italian press described Portugal as a “paradise, that was fundamental for the province of Campania to get rid of its urban waste”, adds Observador.

Campania didn’t have “sufficient infrastructures” to cope with the waste and couldn’t afford Italian landfill charges. Portugal’s were “very much cheaper” – though the cost of 11 euros per ton is being duplicated this year “with the objective of dissuading landfill and encouraging recycling”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com