Waste incineration fuelled cement plant in Toral de los Vados, León, Spain

Opponents to co-incineration for health impacts managed to withdraw the permission to burn waste, but company appeal to Supreme Tribunal


In 2008, the Cosmos cement plant in Toral de Vados (León) was authorised to produce, manage and to burn waste as fuel for their kilns for a period of 8 years, partially replacing the fuel they have been traditionally using (coke petroleum). Apart from urban/industrial waste, also biomass is burnt. With this, the cement plant would 1) reduce the cost of coke petroleum normally used as fuel to produce cement and 2) possibly get economic benefit from waste management companies.

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Basic Data
NameWaste incineration fuelled cement plant in Toral de los Vados, León, Spain
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 CommoditiesCement
Industrial waste
Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2008
Company Names or State EnterprisesCementos Cosmos from Spain
Grupo Votorantim Cimentos from Brazil
Corporacion Noroeste from Spain
Relevant government actorsJunta de Castilla y Leon, Consejeria de Medio Ambiente

Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Castilla y Leon
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEcologistas en acción, Cámara Agraria de León, GAIA
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationLawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases
OtherAir pollution related health impacts
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Project temporarily suspended
Permission to incinerate waste withdrawn by the Supreme Court of Castile and Leon
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The incinerator project was cancelled in 2011. Some technicians from the regional government did not approve the project in the final stage. However, in late 2013 there have been reports announcing that the company is asking permission once again to develop the co-incineration project. The conflict is still open in March 2015.
Sources and Materials

EU 2000/76/CE Directive on incineration of waste:
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Real Decreto 653/2003 sobre incineración de residuos:
[click to view]

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants:
[click to view]


Newspaper article: El Bierzo gana la batalla contra la incineradora de Toral de los Vados. Diagonal:
[click to view]

Newspaper article. Diario de León:
[click to view]

Reasons from EJOs to oppose incineration in cement plants:
[click to view]

Newspaper article: Crece la oposición a la coincineración en Cosmos. La Crónica de León.
[click to view]

Report in Diario de Leon on new EIA and asking permission to burn waste, 2013
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Diario de Leon - Cosmos arranca su fábrica de Toral de los Vados tras invertir 2,5 millones
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[1] Leon Noticias - A trámite el recurso de Cosmos al freno de la coincineración de residuos - Feb 2015
[click to view]

Media Links

Youtube clip against the cement plant becoming incinerator:
[click to view]

January 2014, after court decision by Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Castilla y Leon
[click to view]

Other Documents

Cosmos cement plant in Toral de los Vados Source: http://www.diariodeleon.es/noticias/bierzo/cosmos-arranca-fabrica-toral-vados-invertir-2-5-millones_955764.html
[click to view]

Other CommentsSuch complaints against cement companies in Spain (as in Toral de Vados (León) and other locations in Catalonia (Montcada I Reixac), Navarra (Olatzagutia), Andalusia (Cordoba) and Madrid (Morata de Tajuña), and also elsewhere are motivated by local perceptions of risk of pollution. They support each other by coordination meetings but also by a growing international alliance where the network GAIA plays a role. As argued by the EJO Groundwork in South Africa, “All around the world communities are fighting cement kilns. With the current drive to reduce CO2 emissions, save on the cost of fuel and get rid of all kinds of waste, many cement companies are burning, or considering burning, what are politely called "alternative fuels" but should really be called waste”. http://www.groundwork.org.za/Cement.html
Meta Information
ContributorAmaranta Herrero and EJatlas editors
Last update12/03/2015