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Waste incineration fuelled cement plant in Morata de Tajuña, Spain

The big Portland cement company reduces production costs by burning cheap urban waste as do other cement companies in Spain. The city council orders air quality study .


The cement plant Portland Valderrivas in Morata de Tajuña is the biggest in Spain and one of the biggest in Europe. In late 2012, very possibly as a result of cost-saving measures due to the steep decline in cement production in Spain since 2008 (linked to the bursting of the absurd building bubble), the company asked permission to change or supplement the fuel they were using. From petroleum coke they would change at least in part to different sorts of waste (which may include tyres, plastic materials, meat and bone meals, sewage sludge and domestic waste). The company got the permission to use co-incineration during summer 2013. This is a new instance of what has happened elsewhere, in a location about 35 km to the south of Madrid not far from the domestic waste incinerator of Vandemingomez. As in similar cases in other countries and in Spain, opposition has appeared against this project at local and regional scale, defining it as an environmental justice conflict. As reported in the newspaper El Pais (21 May 2013), the neighbours, the vecinos, are opposed: "La planta ya quema pulpa de madera pero está a la espera de que la Administración autorice la sustitución parcial del combustible fósil por residuos, como harinas animales, lodos de depuradoras y neumáticos que de otra manera acabarían en el vertedero. No obstante, los vecinos se oponen y aseguran que la quema de basuras en incineradoras pone en riesgo la salud." The greatest concern of these groups are the alleged negative potential consequences for human health and the environment related to the uncertain risk of toxic emissions produced in the chimneys of the industrial installation. Several petitions and street protests have been organized; these groups are also coordinated with other national and international groups working against waste incineration.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Waste incineration fuelled cement plant in Morata de Tajuña, Spain
State or province:Madrid
Location of conflict:Morata de Tajuña
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Incinerators
Other industries
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

133 workers are employed in the plant

Project area:60
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:7515 (directed affected population living in Morata de Tajuña)
Company names or state enterprises:Cementos Portland Valderrivas from Spain
Relevant government actors:Madrid Regional government, Morata de Tajuña Town Council, Ministry of Environment
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Ecologistas en Acción Madrid, Asociación de Vecinos Morata de Tajuña, Ribas aire limpio, Medio-Ambiente Sol, Toma la Tierra, GAIA
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Application of existing regulations
Permission for co-incineration granted in 2013 and activity is ongoing
Development of alternatives:Better waste management.
Towards a Zero waste policy.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The company got the permission to use co-incineration during summer 2013.
The population of Morata de Tajuña was divided in opinions regarding the incinerator. There was a strong social pressure not to jeopardize jobs. That also made difficult to communicate environmental concerns.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Ley 16/2002 de 1 de Julio de prevención y control integrados de la contaminación.

Ley 22/11 de 2011 de residuos y suelos contaminados.

Directiva 2008/98/CE del Parlamento Europeo y del Consejo sobre los residuos.

Real Decreto 105/2008 por el que se regula la producción y gestión de los residuos de construcción y demolición.

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Madrid Regional government decision to allow the burning of toxic waste:
[click to view]

Denounce about the irregularities of the process to grant permission to the cement plant:
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Environmental analysis of the project by the cement company:
[click to view]

Presentation about the cement plant project:
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

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El Pais, La cementera de Morata pide permiso para quemar basura urbana - Feb 2013
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[1] 20 minutos - La cementera de Morata multiplica sus emisiones tóxicas por la quema de residuos
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Other documents

View of the plant Source:
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Amaranta Herrero and EJatlas editors
Last update15/05/2016
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