Government frightened of confronting Tejo River polluters
The Left Bloc has spoken out against pollution in the river Tejo, accusing the government of being frightened of confronting the large companies that dump their industrial effluent.
The “scourge of pollution” in the waters of the Tejo, is not confronted, “because nobody has the courage to face the big pulp companies.”
The criticism was aimed at the Minister of the Environment, João Matos Fernandes, and the government’s right-wing opposition, during a public session on Saturday, to discuss the problem.
Referring to the PSD’s Santarém MP, Duarte Marques, Mortagua said “it is very easy to wave a paper and say that you want more money for inspections, when it was the PSD that voted against the imposition on Celtejo of reducing its pollution levels.”
Lef Bloc MP, Carlos Matias, said that Celtejo, the pulp company in Vila Velha de Rodão that is a major polluter, has a special license to dump chemical effluent that it is unable to treat at its plant.
This license was granted by the Portuguese Environment Agency in a deal with Celtejo whereby the company undertook to build a waste water treatment plant to treat effluents produced by nearby industries and the local council – a ‘licence to pollute’ granted by the very agency that is supposed to be protecting the environment.
Next Tuesday, December 5th, the Left Bloc intends to debate a draft resolution to reduce Celtejo’s output.
On November 30th, the proTEJO movement lodged a complaint in Brussels about the pollution in the Tejo and presented a petition to the European Parliament. Another petition “Against the pollution of the Tejo and its tributaries” has been delivered to Portugal’s Parliament and will be debated on December 21st.
Environmentalists also have filed a criminal complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, citing “environmental crimes and a serious public health problem caused by extreme pollution of the River Tejo, which caused the death of a large number of fish,” in November.
The objective is to get the European Union, “to intervene with the Portuguese Ministry of Environment and the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment.”
Paulo Constantino of the proTejo group, said these actions are necessary, “as the Portuguese environment minister does not respond and does not intervene with effective measures to end the discharge of pollutants” into the Tejo.
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