About the "Vall del Ges" incinerator project:
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A environmental menace hangs over the Ges Valley, which lies on the Vic plain. It is a beautiful spot, with the peaks of Bellmunt, Puigsacalm and Collsacabra forming a majestic backdrop. The area includes the villages of Torelló, Sant Vicenç de Torelló and Sant Pere de Torelló. The last village is slap in the middle of the most populated part of the valley.  It is the place chosen by "the powers that be" to site a massive waste incinerator - all under the guise of a thermal power station. The incinerator will burn ten times the amount of waste used by Sant Pere de Torelló's present "power station" which supplies the village with hot water. Given the sheer size of the project, we decided to find out more so that all those affected by the scheme can draw their own conclusions and take action.

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A thermal power station was built in 1992 to heat the homes in the centre of Sant Pere village. The project was touted as a model of co-generation to provide heating and electricity. However, things have turned out very differently: of the 25,000 metric tonnes of wood waste produced by workshops and forestry activities, 16,000 were to fuel the power station. The amount actually burnt never exceeded 8,000 tonnes a year, of which only 300 tonnes came from Vall del Ges. The power station has never produced a single kilowatt of electricity!

The project has been an abject failure throughout its twelve-year life. As a result, the power station has been used to burn any waste that comes to hand. Reckless attempts to rein in the power station's galloping deficit have only served to turn the plant into a nightmarish source of pollution. The plant currently spews out four times the legal limit of pollutants into the atmosphere. The last figures issued were for the 1st of February 2003. Tellingly, no other studies have been carried out since then.

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Given the current absurd situation, a consortium of private companies have taken over the running of the existing thermal "power station". The firms are: CESPA (waste management), EMTE (engineering) ESTEBANELL, PAHISA (electricity distribution) and ENDESA (generating company), which is providing the funding.

Obviously these companies are not getting involved just to provide heating for the village of Sant Pere: CESPA will burn waste that it cannot otherwise get rid of (cardboard, soiled wood, plastic, and textiles are the ones they have deigned to mention) turning the so-called "power station" into a WASTE INCINERATOR that will destroy the valley as we know it.

These kinds of incinerators produce a lethal cocktail of dioxins, furanes, etc. Put these together with the Winter fogs and temperature inversions common on the Vic plain (an ancient lake bed ringed by mountains) and the result will be a deadly mist that permeates every cranny, slowly poisoning the region's inhabitants with dioxins. It seems that Osona County's inhabitants are in for the kind of treatment hitherto reserved for Ukrainian opposition leaders. Furthermore, the waste to be burnt will be transported by enormous trucks that will make 20 journeys a day. The possibility of building an in-situ waste treatment plant later is also on the cards. The initial outsized plant may just be the thin end of the wedge.

The project is set to ruin the area's incipient rural tourism and hiking activities. The recent plan for a scenic route following the meanders of the river Ter would be one of the first casualties. After all, hikers want to breathe fresh air, not dioxin-laden smoke from a nearby incinerator.

It is true the project will provide village heating, but this is simply a ploy to flog us a gigantic waste incinerator-come-power station. The politicians are trotting out buzz-phrases like "flagship project" and "blending in with the surroundings" when the project is just one big toxic turkey. This project should not be sited anywhere in Catalonia, let alone in Sant Pere de Torelló.

When it comes to power generation, the scheme would generate a pitiful  amount of electricity considering the vast amounts of waste to be burnt. Put bluntly, the scheme's promoters really want to dispose of industrial waste. The "power station" is just to sweeten the poisoned pill. This is obvious from the fact that the consortium company drawing up the project is none other than CESPA, which is in the waste disposal business.

That is why we must mobilise once again to stop this madcap scheme, both for our village's sake and for the rest of Osona County.

Rally to the call - if we were able to stop the first project in 2000, we can also stop the latest scheme.

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* Forecast investment: € 42 million (roughly 23 m pounds or $ 54.6 m)

* Power: 20Mw (4.2 for internal use, 15.8 for export). Village heating for Sant Pere de Torelló would require 5 Mw. at the very most.

* Waste burnt: 90,000 metric tonnes /year (currently 9,000 metric tonnes a year are burnt - i.e. TEN TIMES … the current figure would be burnt) In other words - more waste would be incinerated each year than the quantity of crude oil spilt in the "Prestige" tanker disaster!

* Height of the "Power Station": 35 m (roughly 105 feet). (the same as an 11-storey building). The chimney will be 43 metres high (roughly 130 feet).

* Fuel (admitted to by the promoters): “General waste" (wood, plastic, paper, cardboard, textiles). The only selection involved is removal of unburnable waste (iron and steel, aluminium, glass).

* Transport of waste for incineration: 15 large truckloads (20 metric tonnes apiece), daily on the "B" road linking the three villages in the valley

* Transport of incinerated waste: 2-3 truckloads a week of highly toxic ash, possibly to the Anoia district. 

The sheer size of the project does not just affect one muncipality but the whole of Osona County. Using "municipal autonomy" as an argument for avoiding the issues is inexcusable. A decision like this should never be taken without consulting the local community first - the whole episode is a travesty of democracy.

It's up to you to stop this project. Simply accepting the scheme as "inevitable" is likely to turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now is the time to stand firm and show that you are willing to decide you and your children's future and build a society worth living in.
We are not only opposed to incineration here but anywhere else too. The only real solution is the one many Catalan politicians seem so reluctant to take - waste selection, cutting down on waste, and recycling. Catalonia trumpets buzz words like "sustainability" in international forums but practices precisely the opposite at home. If our politicians will not make the right choices, we must do it them instead.

We call on all Catalans to rally to this common cause and fight for the land we love. Both Catalonia and Spain are remarkable in Europe for the diversity of their fauna and flora (the Iberian Peninsula is home to 40% of the continent's species). This is a natural heritage we - and all Europeans - must defend.

Take the Incinerator Tour!


For a more ecological future!



Information: http://www.valldelges.net/
E-mail: [email protected]

Conserve the environment instead of ruining it.


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