Vítor Aleixo demands extinguishing fire in dump and is already “pressing” the company

Mayor of Loulé wants to see the situation resolved quickly

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The mayor of Loulé demands that Inertegarve extinguish as soon as possible the fire that has been raging for more than a month at a waste management center in Vale da Venda, on the eastern edge of the municipality, in Mata do Ludo, and makes available to the company the means of civil protection and municipal firefighters, on condition that the Municipality is reimbursed for the costs.

This is Vítor Aleixo's reaction to what he read in the air quality monitoring report commissioned by the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR), sent to the municipality and other regional and national entities, as well as a recommendation from the Portuguese Authority. Regional de Saúde, which has also warned the owner of the dump that he should put out the fire as soon as possible, for public health reasons.

«What was sent by the Regional Health Authority to the owner, with knowledge to the Loulé Chamber, was an order in the sense that they promote the extinguishing of the fire, insofar as the continuation of the combustion is harmful to public health, due to to the material that is burning», he illustrated.

The Regional Health Authority of the Algarve asked those responsible for the company Inertegarve the 'immediate extinction' of this fire, as it is releasing potentially carcinogenic substances into the air capable of causing other types of diseases.

In this way, the Chamber proposes “to send a dispatch to Inertegarve today [Friday] saying to the company: You will have to put out the fire quickly. If you need any contribution from the Civil Protection and the Municipal Fire Department of Loulé, please contact us, because we are open to collaborating in extinguishing the fire», the mayor of Loulé also revealed to our newspaper.


Photos: Hugo Rodrigues | Sul Informação


“Of course, we will then present the invoice. We are not able to estimate how much it will cost. But if the company does not have its own means to put out the fire, we are ready to help, through reimbursement of the costs involved in the operation”, he added.

In addition to this measure, “in light of the CCDR report and upon the decision of the Health Delegate”, Vítor Aleixo, together with municipal services, determined “to organize a new inspection, which will involve a multidisciplinary team from the Loulé City Council, but also external entities, namely the CCDR, Civil Protection, APA and the Regional Health Authority, to determine whether there is room for the application, by the municipality, of some fines».

On the part of the Chamber, representatives of inspection, Civil Protection, Municipal Firefighters and the Environment Division will attend.

«We are already preparing the dispatch, but I still don't have a date to move forward, because we will have to articulate with external entities. The objective is for these entities to produce a report », he explained.

With these measures, “the municipality intends to increase the pressure and demand that Inertegarve take the necessary quick measures to extinguish that fire. Because we are talking about a fire that burns inside a company, which is the one who has the first responsibility to put it out».

Despite this, and according to Sul Informação learned on the spot, on Thursday there was no movement and no one could be seen working to put out the fire at the company's premises, despite the fact that the property's gates were open and many machines stopped.

«There is a great passivity of the operator there», accuses Vítor Aleixo.

Two days ago, smoke was still coming out of a voluminous pile of rubbish, the result of a slow combustion that you can't see, but it has a strong and nauseating smell.

It is this smell that has motivated many complaints from people who live not only in the vicinity of the waste management center - which had the proper license when the fire broke out, however suspended - but also in more remote areas, such as the city of Faro, in Montenegro and Gambelas, in Almancil, in Santa Bárbara de Nexe and even in the Cerro de São Miguel area.

But worse than the smell is what this smoke is made of.

It was, moreover, the content of the air quality monitoring report commissioned from a specialized company that led the Algarve CCDR to ask for opinions from various entities.


Photos: Hugo Rodrigues | Sul Informação


The entire journey since the day the fire started and the steps taken by CCDR are contained in a clarification made a few days ago by this entity (see at the end of the article), which ends the document stating that "it sent the most up-to-date information available to the of the Portuguese Environment Agency, the Regional Health Administration, the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority and the Municipal Civil Protection Service of the Municipality of Loulé».

Contacted by Sul Informação, the CCDR sent an official position on the report and the measures to be taken to Monday, in order “not to anticipate the entities that were consulted”.

«I think that CCDR's idea is that there is an articulation between various entities, in the sense of – and this is what I interpret – to press and be more demanding, to shorten the extinction of that fire as much as possible», believes Vítor Aleixo.

That is why the Loulé Chamber takes these measures, despite having “nothing to do with the licensing of the activity, nor with inspection, competences that fall to the CCDR”.

Thus, it will have to be this last entity to point the way, and, according to the mayor of Loulé, there are two solutions on the table: «As far as I know, there are two ways to put out the fire: either you use a specific foam for this type of fire or if the burning material is removed to another place, in order to put it out'.


Information from CCDR do Algarve on the fire at the Inertegarve waste management facilities:

«1 – Following the fire that occurred on the 14th of July at the premises of a construction and demolition waste management operator – RCD, in the municipality of Loulé, on the 15th of July, duly licensed to carry out this activity, the The Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR), with the collaboration of the Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR), initiated the procedure for suspending the waste management activity license, urging the owner to clean the facilities with the removal and forwarding of the burned waste to an appropriate final destination/entity licensed for the purpose.

2 – On 16/07/2022, the National Authority for Emergency and Civil Protection (ANEPC), communicates that in view of the declared Situation of Contingency (Order no. being ravaged by several fires, the Region could not be left unattended to follow the occurrence at the landfill in Vale da Venda.

3 – On 18/07/2022, CCDR started the process of contracting external services to carry out a characterization of the air quality in the vicinity of the company's facilities and assess the impact of the fire in the area, namely through a mobile station of monitoring of air quality, promoting consultation with specialist companies.
The fixed installation of the air quality monitoring is located in Faro and did not ensure close monitoring of air quality in the area where this construction and demolition waste management activity was installed.

4 – The installation of the air quality monitoring station next to the waste dump was set up on 25/07/2022 with the technical monitoring of this CCDR, having collected data on air quality for seven days.

5 – On 19/07/2022, the CCDR informed the actions carried out to the General Inspectorate for Agriculture, the Sea, the Environment and Spatial Planning (IGAMAOT), particularly with regard to the notification promoted to the person in charge of the company in order to license suspension.

6 – On 21/07/2022, this CCDR requested the participation of the Municipality of Loulé and the GNR to carry out a joint technical visit, in order to verify the situation at the facilities and the development of the situation and the new measures to be adopted to control the fire.

On 22/07/2022, the Municipality of Loulé confirmed its presence through the Environment Division, Building Division, Municipal Civil Protection Services (SMPC) and the Municipal Fire Department, to participate in a visit to the facilities on 25/ 07/2022, at 10:00.

7 – On 25/07/2022, a joint visit to the facilities was carried out, where representatives of the following entities were present: SMPC, Environment Division and Building Division of the Municipality of Loulé; Loulé Municipal Fire Department; and the Nature and Environment Protection Service (SEPNA) of the GNR, in addition to technicians from this CCDR. In view of what was verified on the spot, and bearing in mind the opinion issued by ANEPC, representatives of the Municipal Firefighters and the SMPC of Loulé were asked what measures to implement to stop the fire, and CCDR representatives were asked to prepare a Report .

In the presence of the company's representatives, a visit was also made to the different areas of the facility, reiterating the need to implement the necessary actions with a view to extinguishing the fire and properly routing the burned waste.

8 - On 26/07/2022, this CCDR requested the Loulé City Council, and as resulted from the agreement in the technical visit carried out on 25/07/2022, the joint report, to be prepared by the SMPC and the Municipal Fire Department, of assessment of the necessary measures and conditions in terms of fire extinguishing.

9 – At the request of the CCDR on 1/08/2022, a new acknowledgment of the situation was made by ANEPC, having transmitted that the fire at the establishment intended for "construction and demolition waste management operations - RCD", was still active.

10- On 3/08/2022, CCDR Algarve met again with the Regional Emergency and Civil Protection Command of the Algarve, Loulé City Council, SMPC and Loulé Municipal Fire Department, in order to extinguish the fire.
On 11/8/2022, the Regional Health Administration (ARS) and the Municipal Delegate of Public Health went to the site, accompanied by the CCDR and the GNR, enabling Public Health with direct knowledge of the situation.

11- On 17/08/2022, noting the continuation of the fire, CCDR sent the most up-to-date information available to the Portuguese Environment Agency, Regional Health Administration, National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority and Municipal Civil Protection Service of the Municipality from Loulé».