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Waste incineration facility in Cercs, Barcelona, Spain


Description:

Cercs is a small rural town close to Berga, Barcelona, in the pre-Pyrenees with a population of approximately 1,000 people. In the 1960s  the population was over 4,000, and the majority used to work on the thermal power plant. Besides coal mining profiteering, textile industry was the second most important in the town. The coal exploitation caused air quality problems due to the geography of the area and to the plant location.

The plant worked from 1971 to 2011 and it all started with the approval of the Francisco Franco regime, who gave the permits to FECSA (Forces Elèctriques de Catalunya - Electrical Forces of Catalunya) to exploit the coal and generate electricity from it. [2][3]

Since the very start of the plant activation, environmental problems starting to emerge, and different activist groups (mainly Alternativa Verda) complained about the acid rain that the activity produced: around 30.000 hectares of land were polluted due to the high amount of sulphure dioxide in the coal. Because of this, the representative the company was setenced by "ecological crime" under the Penal Code, it was the first time in Spain that a kind of this criminal court case too place for environmental reasons. [2][3]

In 2001, the plant was sold to the italian company ENEL who entered the German E.ON group in 2008,   the owner of the plant nowadays. After 40 years working, the plant stopped working the 31st December 2011.[2][3][6]

Now, the company wants to invest 130 M € to create a new project called Ecocercs Energy to generate electricity from burning industrial waste[2][4]. This new project made the municipality react and so the anti incineration platform was created. People from different backgrounds got together to express their rejection against the project. So far, from the 32 municipalities of the area, there are 28 against the project, being the Town Council of Cercs one of the few ones in favor of the project. The district council chairman affirms that the region's policy is not commited to incineration of waste for electricity generation. [2]

The project is now at a stage in which environmental impact assessment is needed to investigate the viability of the project. In March, 2020, there was a moratorium approved in the Catalan Parliament about waste incineration facilities. [5][6]This moratorium approved two of the three points regarding the stop of new waste incineration facilities that were projected in different places, such as the one in Cercs and another one in Juneda; and also the projects that were about to start. The moratorium also asks for the dismantling and activity pause of the existing waste incineration facilities.[5][6] Unfortunately, the point concerning the use of different types of waste as fuel for other industries, such as  cement plants, was not included in this new law. (Waste incineration fuelled cement plant in Montcada i Reixac, EJAtlas case for more information).

The objective of this moratorium is to stop the waste incineration practice until a new law regarding waste is approved in Catalonia, following the guidelines of the European Union, which highlights that incineration should be the last step just before dumpsters. To follow the EU ground rule congruently, the law hopefully will be recognized. [5][7]

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Waste incineration facility in Cercs, Barcelona, Spain
Country:Spain
State or province:Barcelona
Location of conflict:Cercs
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Incinerators
Specific commodities:Industrial waste
Electricity

Project Details and Actors

Project details

This plant is expected to burn 332,000 tones of waste every year, which means 1,000 t of industrial waste burnt every day, creating more than 300,000 tones of CO2 which would be equivalent to 10% of all vehicles in Catalunya.[1][6] The waste burnt would be mainly industrial waste: 100,000 t/year of vehicles out of use, 55,000 t/year of rejects from the recycling paper industry, 22,000 t/year of diverse rejects of the recycling industry and 150,000 t/year of unspecified waste. The incineration of waste would be used to produce 225 M kWh of energy annually, which 20M kWh produced each year would be for the plant maintenance and different needs. To make the plant work, 60 work places would directly be created and 100 more work places indirectly, mostly from transport of waste to the facility.[2][5]

Level of Investment:141,011,650
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:Between 1,000 and 40,000
Start of the conflict:02/10/2019
Company names or state enterprises:
EON from Germany - This is the company that owns the old thermal power plant of Cercs.
Relevant government actors:Generalitat de Catalunya
Ajuntament de Cercs
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Plataforma Anti-Incineradora de Cercs: https://twitter.com/PCercs
CEPA Centre d'Ecologia i Projecte Alternatius

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Soil contamination, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases, Accidents
Other Health impactsRespiratory diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures

Outcome

Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Moratoria
Proposal and development of alternatives:Although there is no clear project that the Anti incineration Platform would like to develop in the area, they emphasize the need to use the space for activities that will benefit the municipality. The main objective is for the plant to be dismantled and use the space left for neighbors or other social purposes such as social housing. The need for social housing and areas to develop projects linked to the territory is highlighted by the Anti Incineration Platform.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:It was a success because political parties together with different environmental justice platforms reached an agreement to aprove a moratorium of waste incineration faclities by the Parlament de Catalonia, while waiting for the new law on waste management.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Ley 22/2011, de 28 de julio, de residuos y suelos contaminados

[7]Moratorium on waste incineration facilities
https://cepanoticies.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/mocic3b3-moratc3b2ria-incineradora-.pdf

Ley 5/2013, de 11 de junio, por la que se modifican la Ley 16/2002, de 1 de julio, de prevenció y control integrados de la contaminación y la Ley 22/2011, de 28 de julio, de residuos y suelos contaminados

Plan Nacional de Calidad del Aire y Protección de la Atmósfera 2013-2016

Moratòria
https://cepanoticies.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/mocic3b3-moratc3b2ria-incineradora-.pdf

Directa, RAFEL J. SERAROLS, October 11st, 2019

"MASSIVA OPOSICIÓ A UNA INCINERADORA AL BERGUEDÀ"
https://directa.cat/massiva-oposicio-a-una-incineradora-al-bergueda/

THE DANGERS OF WASTE INCINERATION: DIOXINS, CARBON DIOXIDE AND HEAVY METALS.

Directa newspaper. Jesús Rodríguez. January 7th 2020.
https://directa.cat/els-perills-de-la-crema-de-residus-dioxines-dioxid-de-carboni-i-metalls-pesants/

October 2019 Article: Emergency sabotage climate in Cercs
https://cepanoticies.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/gatxllebre_cercs_print.pdf

Moratoria Article
https://www.elpuntavui.cat/territori/article/11-mediambient/1752714-el-parlament-insta-el-govern-a-establir-una-moratoria-urgent-a-nous-projectes-d-incineracio-de-residus.html

El País, Laura Cercós, October 10th 2019.

"A company wants to transform the Cercs thermal into an incinerator"
https://cat.elpais.com/cat/2019/10/09/economia/1570645817_914790.html

[6]Gat per Llebre, Jordi Bigues, October 4th, 2019.

Emergency sabotage climate in Cercs
https://cepanoticies.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/gatxllebre_cercs_print.pdf

[5]El Punt Avui, march 5th 2020.

Parliament urges the Government to establish an urgent moratorium on new waste incineration projects
https://www.elpuntavui.cat/territori/article/11-mediambient/1752714-el-parlament-insta-el-govern-a-establir-una-moratoria-urgent-a-nous-projectes-d-incineracio-de-residus.html

[4]El País, Laura Cercós, October 10th 2019.

"A company wants to transform the Cercs thermal into an incinerator"
https://cat.elpais.com/cat/2019/10/09/economia/1570645817_914790.html

[3]Directa, Jesús Rodríguez, January 7th 2020.

THE DANGERS OF WASTE INCINERATION: DIOXINS, CARBON DIOXIDE AND HEAVY METALS.
https://directa.cat/els-perills-de-la-crema-de-residus-dioxines-dioxid-de-carboni-i-metalls-pesants/

[2]Lavanguardia, Alberto Servián Aparicio, January 22nd 2020.

"La incineradora de Cercs resucita viejos fantasmas del pasado"
https://www.lavanguardia.com/local/catalunya/20200122/472924073180/incineradora-residuos-antigua-central-termica-cercs-bergueda.html

[1]Directa, RAFEL J. SERAROLS, October 11st, 2019

"MASSIVA OPOSICIÓ A UNA INCINERADORA AL BERGUEDÀ"
https://directa.cat/massiva-oposicio-a-una-incineradora-al-bergueda/

Lavanguardia, Alberto Servián Aparicio, January 22nd 2020.

"La incineradora de Cercs resucita viejos fantasmas del pasado"
https://www.lavanguardia.com/local/catalunya/20200122/472924073180/incineradora-residuos-antigua-central-termica-cercs-bergueda.html

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Cercs Anti-Incineration Platform Twitter Account
https://twitter.com/PCercs

Ecology center and alternative projects (CEPA)

Environmental, scientific, non-profit association and independent of any political party or other institutions. One of their objectives is to disseminate environmental information and develop a broad initiative for environmental and socio-ecological education, in order to achieve the formation of a state of environmental opinion and behavior.
https://cepanoticies.wordpress.com/

Cercs Anti-Incineration Platform - Twitter Account
https://twitter.com/PCercs

Ecology center and alternative projects (CEPA) Entity supporting the Anti-Incineration Platform.

Environmental, scientific, non-profit association and independent of any political party or other institutions. One of their objectives is to disseminate environmental information and develop a broad initiative for environmental and socio-ecological education, in order to achieve the formation of a state of environmental opinion and behavior.
https://cepanoticies.wordpress.com/

Ecology center and alternative projects - Twitter account.
https://twitter.com/cepaecologia

Other documents

https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/4956/cercs.jpg

Meta information

Contributor:2019 PE&Degrowth Master/Natalia, Victorien and Gemma
Last update04/04/2020

Images

 

Thermal Power Plant

Old thermal power plant, selected to be converted into the Incineration Plant.

Cercs

Aereal view of Cercs and the old thermal power plant.