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PAN questions Olhão Council over ‘environmental crime’, dumping waste in Ria Formosa

37environment crimePAN have released a statement revealing that “tonnes of construction and demolition waste” were recently dumped within a protected area of ??the Ria Formosa Natural Park, under the pretence of building a ramp for trucks to be able to easily access a small nearby loading dock, used to take supplies to and from the Ria Formosa islands off the coast of Olhão.

The group stresses that any operation involving construction and demolition waste must comply with specific legislation, “and that such work, or intervention, has not signposted or identified, and requires an Environmental Assessment prior to being done in a special protection zone”, such as the Ria Formosa natural park.  

Citing statements by the Director of the Ria Formosa Natural Park to the Público newspaper, a PAN representative revealed that “the authorization request was unfavourable because the environmental impact study requested was not presented,” but noted that authorization for dumping the waste had been granted regardless.

The PAN representative said in the same statement that having visited the site, “it was visible that a digger was removing potentially contaminated sludge” from the surrounding area, placing it in trucks, which were then transported and deposited in an open ditch in the place where the future infrastructure works are taking place.

The source also explains that these sludges, as they are contaminated industrial sediments, should have been previously analysed in order to know their degree of contamination, inasmuch as “the sediments were deposited over decades in the place and any intervention will be dangerous as it will release heavy metals and organic compounds into the marine ecosystem”.  

PAN says that in the area where the access ramp was installed, “there have been discharges of urban and industrial wastewater for several years, originating from old illegal connections to the rainwater collection network, a regrettable situation that a long time ago should have had been resolved.”  

Ricardo Cândido, District Political Commissioner for PAN Algarve, says that “it is important to certify whether we are witnessing an environmental crime and, if so, why this intervention has lasted for so many days in the Olhão riverside area, in plain sight.”