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Montijo airport study has “four serious flaws”, scientists warn

Eleven researchers earlier today challenged the Environmental Impact Study (EIA) looking into the impact of the proposed airport in Montijo. Risk of flooding due to rising sea levels, seismic hazard, susceptibility to tsunami flooding, and increased emissions of aviation-related greenhouse gases were the four problems identified by scientists, who feel a “scientific conviction to promote the correct and appropriate risk assessment” of the Montijo airport project.

The researchers believe that there was a “clear breach” of legality in the environmental impact assessment that investigated how the project could have significant consequences on the environment, thus the signatories are pushing for “the rejection and non-approval of the EIA”.

The contesting report, “Montijo Airport and its accessibility”, written and signed by the eleven scientists, who have experience in the areas of geography, physics, geology, geophysics, atmospheric physics, energy, and environmental and civil engineering. In a press release issued today, the eleven scientists, signatories of the EIA appeal document, warned of “the EIA’s complete omission of flight-phase greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on the Neutrality Roadmap goals, compromising compliance”.

The shortcomings pointed out are errors in the calculation of risk analysis of sea level rise, the omission of the analysis of various scenarios in the view of the climate change situation, the gaps in seismic action evaluation, and the underestimation of the high risk associated with tsunami flooding in the area the project is planned for.

In light of their rebuke at the flawed report, the group of scientists argue that “the associated risks should have been assessed at the level of impacts to better adapt mitigation measures, and should therefore be included in the risk analysis.”

In this regard, the researchers recall that “264 years one of the greatest natural disasters in Portugal’s history hit the city of Lisbon, the earthquake 1755”, in which the capital was the victim of a massive earthquake followed by a series of tsunamis, resulting in more than 10,000 deaths, which “to date have accounted for a significant percentage of the city’s population.”

“Keeping this memory alive is crucial in defining planning strategies. Therefore, as a risk mitigation strategy, we should not occupy the most vulnerable sites” the scientists said in their press statement.

The eleven scientists who signed the contest, all professors or university researchers, are Carlos Antunes, Filipe Agostinho Lisboa, João Mata, João Cabral, Luís Matias, Maria da Graça Silveira, Nuno Afonso Dias, Pedro Costa, Pedro Soares, Pedro Nunes and Rui Ferreira.

On October 30th, the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) issued the proposal for an Environmental Impact Statement (DIA) for Montijo airport and its viability, and the decision was “conditionally favourable”, making the project viable.

The APA seem to be ignorant to any criticism of the original EIA, explaining that “the DIA is conditionally favourable, thus making the project viable on the environmental side.”

Their solution to the issue is to throw money at the problem by constructing various environmental disaster mitigations system. The APA clarify this, saying “the DIA includes a package of environmental minimization and compensation measures that amount to about 48 million euros.”