Polish waste-processing firm rejects toxic shipment from El Salvador

A waste incineration plant in southern Poland has rejected a shipment of pesticide-tainted soil and runoff from El Salvador after residents staged protests over the impending delivery of waste linked to kidney disease.

The deal was to have earned SARP Industries, a waste treatment and recycling plant in Dabrowa Gornicza, 88 million euros, or about $108 million, the Radio Poland website reported earlier.

But residents of the struggling coal-mining town protested the import of the 69 tons of liquid and solid waste, fearing its incineration would contribute to already poor air quality, the Associated Press reported Monday.

SARP managers and officials from the Polish Environment Ministry decided after negotiations that the shipment en route from El Salvador by sea should be rejected. Deputy Environment Minister Janusz Ostapiuk said the waste would be returned to El Salvador if no other European country would take it for processing.

“Despite the security of the processes at the plant, it has not been possible to dispel the concerns of public opinion,” Environment Minister Maciej Grabowski said on the government website.


European Union regulations require member states to operate waste disposal and processing facilities to reduce their own toxic industrial byproducts and forbid the waste’s export to non-EU countries. Poland has at least two commercial facilities that are allowed to import waste for destruction or recycling, with government approval.

Before their accession into what is now a 28-nation economic bloc, Eastern European countries were often used as dumping grounds for unwanted waste from wealthier countries.

The pesticide waste from El Salvador was collected from the town of San Luis Talpa, where the AP said the majority of its 27,000 residents suffer chronic kidney disease and at least 54 deaths have been linked to the agricultural chemical waste.

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