Moves finally underway to secure ‘critically unsafe quarries’

Yesterday’s Council of Ministers – as well as tackling the ‘red hot issues of the moment’ with striking nurses – finally tackled the insidious crisis within the nation’s ‘critically unsafe’ quarries.

Following the horror in Borba – where five men lost their lives as a national road collapsed into a subterranean pit – a report found 191 sites in critical need of “priority interventions” (click here).

Of those 191, 34 carry an ‘elevated risk’.

According to Expresso, works on the 34 will go ahead this year, but the other 157 have been given a further three years to get in shape.

The plan has been defined in a document approved yesterday (Plano de Intervenção nas Pedreiras em Situação Crítica) in which works required are expected to cost around €14.3 million.

Says Expresso, the costs, to be supported by quarry owners in question, “excludes the cost of the building work” involved.

In cases where the owners do not do the works in time, the country’s environmental fund is to be bolstered by €2.2 million per year so that it should be able to intervene.

At the same time, a ‘judicial process’ would be lodged so that the State could (somehow) recover any money spent on making up for owners’ ‘disobedience’.

So far, this is all on paper and there have been no reactions from the quarry sector.

Expresso concluded its report stressing that “in the elaboration of the lists of quarries in a critical situation the only risk factors contemplated were those for the exterior (public roads, residences or the property of third parties, etc)”.

“Dangers exclusive to the exercise of labour activities within the quarries” were not assessed.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã has stressed that the only quarries reviewed by the government have been those that are licensed by central public administration.
This number is just 57% of the country’s quarry total.

The remaining 43% (roughly 1,074 sites) are the responsibility of borough councils and, by interference, may have side-stepped up-to-date security checks.

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