The pro-TEJO movement has called another mass demo in Lisbon for this Saturday (October 14) at Cais de Sodré. Says the group in defence of the Tejo river, severe drought has exacerbated problems, particularly localised pollution. In the area round Vila Franca de Xira, for example, “hundreds of dead fish” are appearing every day.
Authorities say they are “investigating”, but pro-TEJO lays much of the blame on neighbouring Spain, which it says limits the water being released into Portuguese territory – and even then it is “intensely contaminated”, not least from “radiation originating from the Almaraz nuclear plant” just 100 kms from the Portuguese border.
In a no-holds-barred post over Facebook exhorting people to its cause, the group says pollution of the Iberian Peninsula’s longest river is being allowed to continue “in total disrespect to laws in place” despite constant alerts sounded by environmentalist groups and local populations.
“This catastrophic situation of the River Tejo and its tributaries has serious implications on the quality of waters used to irrigate farmland, on fishing, on people’s health and it impedes the possibility to take advantage of the river’s potential when it comes to leisure, tourism and water sports”.
“Never before” has the Tejo registered “such a high level of pollution, abandonment and lack of respect by the minority who destroy everything in the face of complacency from the authorities”.
Saturday’s demo will be the third of its kind, but the group says each protest has goaded authorities to do a little bit more in terms of protection.
After the March rally earlier this year, “the quality of the water improved significantly” says the group, but “since June” there has been a “significant level of pollution” around Vila Velha de Ródão, as a result of discharges from the Celtejo cellulose factory.
Thus Saturday’s demo is designed to try and push Minister of Environment João Pedro Matos Fernandes into “taking measures to contain polluting discharges into the river… by “guaranteeing” that Celtejo cleans up its act, to abide by ‘ecological parameters’.
For more details of Saturday’s event, see the ProTEJO – Movimento Pelo Tejo Facebook page.