On 12 January 2018, EDM technicians, accompanied by the President, Vice-President and technicians from Castelo de Paiva Council, travelled to the former mining area of Pejão-Germunde, in Pedorido, in order to evaluate a situation of smouldering in the heaps that resulted from coal mining.
This situation occurred following the violent fires of 15 October that devastated much of the country and the Municipality of Castelo de Paiva, where they spread to the heaps of the former coal mines. Despite the fact that the fires were extinguished, the materials deposited in this heap, which contained carbon, continued to smoulder.
The main purpose of this visit was to carry out an on-the-spot assessment of the situation and assist in the joint definition of the measures necessary for its resolution.
As a result of the visit, EDM found that the focal points of the smouldering are limited to materials deposited in heaps, and there is no evidence that they have spread to unexplored coal deposits in the subsoil.
The slow combustion of carboniferous materials deposited in heaps is responsible for the emission of combustion gases from the coal, which became more intense with the rains as a result of a rise in the evaporation of rain water in contact with the focal points of the fires.
While considering that this situation does not immediately represent a reason for alarm among the population, EDM stresses that it has put in place an air quality monitoring station to measure carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and particulates in order to clarify the impacts on the populations located in the surrounding area.
Additionally, despite the fact that the the focus points of the fire were located on private land, EDM has erected temporary fencing in areas that were not sealed off in order to guarantee safety.
These are urgent and necessary measures required to assess the effects on the populations of the “combustion outbreaks” and to prevent accidents in the affected areas. They are being implemented while a technical solution is carried out, firstly to extinguish the fires and then to make necessary adjustments to the heaps to avoid further occurrences in the future.