A COMPANY, apparently operating an unlicensed animal crematorium in the Monchique hills, has refused to cease its activities, despite receiving a closure order and instructions to demolish the facility from Monchique Câmara.
The Câmara President is quoted in a report in the Barlavento newspaper as saying, “the constructions are not licensed and, therefore, they must come down”.
According to the same report, local residents in the area are complaining about the intense smell of burning animal flesh. They claim that the crematorium does not have the necessary conditions to operate and cannot guarantee safety or environmental protection. They also claim they are breathing in foul toxins and are worried that effluent from the facility may even be contaminating the nearby river. The Portuguese newspaper states that a very rudimentary system is used to incinerate the animals and the furnace is nothing but a metal drum laid down on its side, covered in concrete and stones.
The Resident’s Caroline Cunha contacted Evert Hendrik Hoos, the Dutchman who owns the Creon Starlight animal crematorium, for his response to the accusations in the Barlavento article. “We are legal, we are not closing and we have all the necessary paperwork,” he said. “Nobody has been here to speak to me and what is being written is not correct. I am not at war with my neighbours. The Portuguese people here support what I am doing, there is only one Italian man who objects to my work.”
Hoos suggested we contact his lawyer for further information concerning the legality of his business. Almancil based solicitor, Maria Lurdes Nialha, explained the current situation with regard to her client. “The problem is that no law currently exists in Portugal in relation to animal crematoriums, therefore, it is simply not possible to obtain a licence,” she said. “For this reason, Monchique Câmara is unable to deal with the licensing of my client’s business and I have, therefore, submitted a process to the administrative court of Loulé requesting their judgement. It is clear that this matter no longer concerns Monchique Câmara.”
When asked about the alleged illegal construction, Maria Lurdes admitted that her client had received a demolition order for the unlicensed buildings on his land. “It is ridiculous, these are not permanent buildings, they are small wooden houses that are not lived in and can be moved at any time. Technically they should not require licences. I am appealing against the demolition order and the request has been submitted to Monchique Court,” she said.
Common practice elsewhere
Evert Hoos told The Resident that his company has already cremated more than 2,000 animals since being established. “This is normal practise in countries like Holland, England and Germany,” he says.
It is against the law here to bury a dead pet in the ground, it must be taken to a vet for disposal. Creon Starlight offers an alternative for those who wish to dispose of their animal in what they consider a more “respectful way” and provides owners with an urn containing the animal’s ashes.
“I can guarantee you that there is no smoke and no toxins. We incinerate using a computerised system that ensures the furnace operates at 900 degrees Celsius which is in accordance with EU standards.”
Despite its current unofficial status, many vets and animal associations, it appears, are recommending Creon Starlight when asked about the options available when a pet dies. The Resident has seen copies of countless thank you letters from private individuals and associations.
What is incredibly ironic is that, despite being ‘illegal’ and being ordered to close by their local council, Creon Starlight continues to undertake work for Portugal’s Ministery for the Environment, Territorial Planning and Regional Development. The Resident has copies of faxes in its possession from the Ministry addressed to Creon Starlight, requesting quotes and confirming requests for the crematorium to incinerate dead animals that have been collected from the A22.
More interesting still is that Evert Hoos was recently telephoned by the Ministry whom enquired if his crematorium would be available to incinerate infected birds should a bird flu pandemic reach the Algarve.