Ministry hopes to recover funds from companies

The Balearic environment ministry will start to clean up the Can Set quarry in Llucmayor, used as an uncontrolled tip by Astracoma for 18 months. Work will start next week and cost 685'000 euros. Minister Margalida Rosselló said that the work would be financed by the tourist tax, although her department plans to reclaim the money from the 20 firms belonging to Astracoma (Assocation of Container Carriers) “who have polluted it.” It is the first project of its type to be carried out in the Balearics, and Rossello said that plans had been drawn up to counteract the pollution generated by the combustion of 185'000 cubic metres of rubbish, which has already caused several fires which have proved to be impossible to extinguish. Rossello said that the rubbish was of all kinds, and was unclassified, although most of it came from building sites and demolitions. Rossello, accompanied by the director general of rubbish control Nicolau Barceló, said that the Balearics was the first region to take action of this type “to prevent pollution and damage to the environment.” Miquel Colom of the ministry's pollution department, said it would take 19 weeks to recover Can Set, and work would consist of sealing off the quarry with a layer of 2.35 metres of different materials. Five boreholes will then be drilled to extract the accumulated gas in a controlled manner, so that it can be burned off correctly. Once this is done, a vigilance and maintenance plan will be set up. The building rubble was dumped in Can Set quarry by Astracoma between March 2000 and October 2001, without control, for which the ministry imposed a fine of 12'000 euros plus the obligation to pay for restoration. In November 2001, the ministry also took Astracoma to court for an environmental offence, which had also drawn forth many complaints from neighbours. The ministry decided to declare the clean up operation “urgent” on December 19, in order to put an end to the pollution “as quickly as possible”. The recovery of Can Set forms part of an integral plan to restore areas affected by opening quarries in the Playa de Palma area. The full cost of the project is 19.4 million euros, 12 million to be dedicated to the recuperation of Can Set and ten other polluted quarries, six million euros to clean up a further 47 quarries and 400'000 euros for the development of a programme to prevent an impact on the environment in 114 sites. Barceló did not rule out starting similar action at the Can Barceló quarry, which is also in Llucmajor.

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