“We have suffered for many years impacts from the coal plant, and from the loading and unloading of coal from the port of Alcudia,” says Josep Alonso Aguiló, a lawyer and resident of Alcudia, a town on the northern edge of Mallorca, Spain.
The sunny holiday destination is home to Endesa’s Es Murterar coal plant, which Josep has campaigned against since before it was built in 1976.
“The plant is located in the middle of the most important tourist area of the north of Mallorca with a very high number of visitors,” says Alonso.
“In the 1970s, when the Es Murterar thermal power station was authorised, there was an important opposition movement from neighbors. Finally the power station was installed but in a place that we considered at the time, and now, not suitable. It is immediately adjacent to the natural park of S’Albufera, which is the most important of the Balearics and the Mediterranean.”
The plant is located a short distance inland, but as Mallorca imports all of its coal from Columbia and other nations, it must be transported to the plant by truck, spreading coal dust all over the local, populated area.
When the plant burns the coal, its pollution impacts the nearby residential and tourist areas first and foremost, but as with all air pollution from coal, winds also carry it much farther afield.
“The impacts are felt without any doubt by beach goers, who are tourists and residents. It is enough to run your finger over the boats or the floats that are located on the beach to appreciate the amount of coal dust from the port of Alcudia. It is absolutely palpable.”
“Additionally: the type of coal loading and unloading that is being done in the port without corrective measures is generating that there are tons of coal at the bottom of the sea that have been accumulating for decades,” says Alonso.
The plant’s impacts begin before it burns the coal, with the arrival and transportation of imported coal. The impacts continue with air pollution when it is burned, and as the extremely dirty waste water is pumped into the nearby wetland nature park, they continue impacting the local environment long after.
Alonso and others standing up against coal in Mallorca have a vision for the sunny island, and with its potential for local renewables and greater imports from mainland Spain via it’s (currently underused) interconnector, coal could easily be a thing of the past for Alcudia.
“We would like to contemplate a future (for the Balearic Islands) with zero CO2 emissions and full, self reliant renewable energy system,” says Alonso.
Read more on Alcudia in Europe Beyond Coal’s new Last Gasp report on the health impact of coal companies
Photography by Greg McNevin