May 12, 2021

The olive-growing village of Jaén looking sideways at Brussels | Society

The olive-growing village of Jaén looking sideways at Brussels | Society



"They have always told us that we are loading the planet, that we have to change to sustainable energies, and now we find this." This is Tomás Martínez, the councilor for the Environment of Villanueva del Arzobispo, a municipality of Jaén with a population of just 8,000 that has been appearing in the annual air quality reports for years. one of the most polluted places in Spain. This olive zone is a black point of PM10 particulate pollution. "I do not think we're the only ones. What happens is that the others do not have meters installed in their town, "says the councilman.

In recent years has been brewing in Villanueva del Arzobispo a kind of perfect storm of air dirty. The first problem is its orography. "It is located in a hollow. When there is atmospheric stability, the cold air does not rise and retains the particles at ground level ", explains Martínez. And precisely when it is cold is when the biomass combustion boilers that have proliferated in the town in recent years to the heat of the subsidies and the rise in the prices of electricity and diesel are lit more. If something abounds in this area, a sea of ​​olive trees where millions of kilos of oil are produced each year, are biofuels: olive bones, pellets of wood, firewood from the usual …

So the residents of Villanueva del Arzobispo, who believed they were helping the environment while saving on their energy bill, have ended up turning their location into one of the areas on which the European Commission annually warns. "Brussels gives an ultimatum to Spain for the contamination of Villanueva del Arzobispo", Titled a few months ago the newspaper The ideal, which showed his surprise at the fact that a municipality of this size compete in the same league as cities like Madrid and Barcelona.

Pollution by particles, which usually sneaks into the agenda of the municipal plenary sessions, is not a new topic of conversation for the neighbors. Years ago the emissions of a marc oil extractor industry also placed the municipality on the map of pollution. The plant was in the middle of the urban area and burned olive bones – it now uses natural gas and from the Consistory discard that it contributes to poor air quality. The Junta de Andalucía installed air quality meters, which were maintained after the company moved two kilometers away and the problem disappeared. But by then, the particles in the industry had already been replaced by boiler particles.

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