SUSPECT: Italian rubbish imported for treatment to Portugal “cannot be buried in ground”

Following on from the exposé last month, revealing that a treatment centre in Setúbal was ‘importing’ thousands of tons of rubbish from Italy, “irregularities” have been found – scuppering the deal to bury the consignment for an undisclosed sum.

Media stories highlighted environmentalists’ concerns when the first batch of 2,760 tons of refuse arrived from Italy four weeks ago (click here).

At the time, authorities suggested “everything was going according to European Community rules”. But the refuse went on to be quarantined pending an inspection – which detected “certain irregularities”.

The Ministry of Environment finally issued a statement on Wednesday admitting the consignment’s deposit into Setúbal’s landfull has been suspended, giving industrial waste treatment plant CITRI – responsible for the importation deal – time to get all the doubts “soundly clarified”.

According to TSF Radio, CITRI now has five days to respond to environmental inspectorate analysis.

At issue is non-conformity to European parameters of Dissolved Organic Carbon.

CITRI said before the inspection that the imported waste was all “low risk and without danger”, TSF added. The plan was to bury it in the industrial landfill site at Mitrena “at the entrance to Setúbal”.

Now, CITRI faces two possible scenarios – both of which imply logistical, not to mention financial, headaches: either the 2,760 tons can be shipped back to Italy (which was trying to get rid of it to avoid massive EU fines), or it can be transferred to a treatment centre that is licensed for this kind of rubbish.

Failure to act is no option as CITRI would face a fine of up to €72,000 in the case of negligence, and between €36,000 – €216,000 if it was found to be acting in bad faith.

[email protected]