After 4 years of scientific investigation and public debate, the Portuguese environmental agency has approved plans for two cement kilns to burn industrial waste as fuel. The government hopes to reduce a national stockpile of hazardous industrial waste, composed mostly of oils and solvents.

One of the two plants is in the Arrabida Nature Preserve, while the other is near the city of Coimbra. They plan to begin incineration in June.

Both the left and right wings of the government, as well as area residents, have attacked the move. Defending the decision, Environment Minister Jose Socrates said, “The long process of public consultation has not produced any arguments to alter the original decision.” He promised that “any waste that can be broken down, reused or recycled will not be burned” and announced that Portugal will begin construction of a hazardous waste collection and treatment plant.

There is no information available on whether the incineration will produce dangerous smoke and particulates that could spread to other parts of Europe over the summer months.

(Photo courtesy of Pedro Cardoso)

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