Carboneras contamination fears
Environmentalists call for government action to reduce emissions amid alarming report on global pollution
By Emma Randle Residents in Carboneras are becoming increasingly worried about exposure to contamination generated by the town’s industrial estate, according to ecologists.
Environmental association Ecologistas en Acción (EA) says Carboneras residents are “tired of putting up with high pollution” without any action being taken to stop it, after collecting views to lobby the regional environment department.
The town, on the edge of the Cabo de Gata nature park, is home to a cement factory, a thermal electricity plant, a bio-diesel factory and a desalination plant, all of which emit contaminants either into the atmosphere or the sea.
However, the most worrying aspect for residents, according to EA, is air pollution produced principally by the burning of toxic materials at the cement factory, the burning of carbon at the coal-fired power station – one of Europe’s worst polluting installations, according to various independent studies - and the emission of particulates.
EA is appealing to the regional government to take specific steps to reduce contamination and improve air quality by covering over the carbon storage area at the power plant, installing new air quality measuring stations and developing a new clean air plan.
It is also seeking a study on the incidence of air pollution-related diseases in the area.
The situation at Carboneras is however only part of a bigger picture of pervasive global air pollution.
An annual EA report published this summer revealed that the entire population of Andalucía breathed in contaminated air in 2016. It said air pollution levels exceeded World Health Organisation recommendations in virtually the whole of the region, measured at 86 different points.
Meanwhile, a recent report commissioned by The Lancet medical journal concluded that pollution is killing “millions of people a year” and that the world is reaching “crisis point”.
It said that globally nine million people died in 2015 as a result of air pollution and that it is responsible for around 50,000 deaths a year in the UK.
The findings were from a two-year project involving more than 40 international researchers. Air pollution from factories and vehicles is responsible for killing around 6.5 million people a year, but contamination is also found in water and elsewhere, the report said.
Campaigners across the world are calling on governments to reduce air pollution by committing to clean air measures such as taxing diesel vehicles.
However, as UK group ClientEarth points out, they are faced with “persistent government failure to take effective action”.
Carboneras thermal power station burns carbon