Sines - Central EDP 3.JPG

Sines power plant identified as Portugal’s worst air polluter

ZERO, the Portuguese association campaigning for sustainability, has identified a damning list of Portugal’s top-10 Public Enemy polluters, topped by EDP’s thermoelectrical plant at Sines.

But no sooner were the results published than beverages manufacturer Unicer – number four on the blacklist for atmospheric pollution – was complaining that the whole initiative was “a gross error” that has “significantly distorted” results.

Unicer maintains that it employs “best practices” when it comes to environmental sustainability, and it laments the fact that ZERO never got in touch with the firm to “explain the incorrect values that it published”.

Lusa news agency explains that ZERO was simply analysing data collected by the European Environment Agency.

The EEA collected its data in 2014 but only published it recently. ZERO honed in on details pertaining to Portugal, and has come up with two blacklists, for air and water polluters.

The worst water polluter is the ETAR (waste water treatment plant) in Matosinhos, followed by ETARs in Alcântara (Lisbon), Sines, the North and Lordelo in Guimarães. Private water treatment centres including SANEST (Cascais/ Estoril) and Tratave (in Guimarães and Vila Nova de Famalicão) are also on the list, as is the Portucel industrial complex in Setúbal.

As ZERO explains, these polluters all contaminate to a point that there are “impacts on human health and ecosystems”.

Pulp giant Portucel, for instance, is on both lists.

Other no-nos when it comes to air polluters are Cimpor, the cement manufacturer, Petrogal (fuel refining), Soporcel and CMP, as well as animal food producer Alimentação Animal Nanta, in Marco de Canaveses.

ZERO’s president Francisco Ferreira explains that what his association has done is formulate a final ranking for each plant throughout the year, which “does not mean that the companies are not complying with the law, nor that they are not using the best technologies available”.

What it does show environmentalists, however, is that results could be improved if renewable energies were embraced.

The option is “expensive but possible”, said Franco – highlighting that doing nothing sees the build-up of heavy metals that directly and indirectly affect ecosystems.

“One of the most worrying is mercury,” he added – stressing Sines is the worst offender “as it burns coal”.

No industrial plant in the Algarve was identified by ZERO, though the European Court of Justice has imposed a fine on Portugal of €8,000 per day due to delays in compliance with a directive on water treatment in Vila Real de Santo António and Matosinhos, reports TVI 24.