The meeting was attended by Councillor Maxime Sousa Bispo and representatives of CCDR-Algarve, Amorim Cork Insulation (ACI), the Pestana Group and the "Neighbours of the Factory" Residents' Committee.

The phase 1 pre-filter has not worked properly since the factory reopened after the holiday period at the end of August, causing serious problems for the neighbourhood with clouds of white smoke. The representative of the Amorim group's management has formally apologised to the "Neighbours of the Factory" for the inconvenience caused in recent times.

The factory's general manager, Carlos Manuel Oliveira, has ordered a halt to the cork block production process when the pre-filter is not working properly. From 2 October, the pre-filter will be subject to work to fine-tune its performance and correct the software problems that have been detected in the meantime, through the Austrian engineering company that is also responsible for designing the system. The ACI management should inform Councillor Maxime Sousa Bispo of the pre-filter's operating status by 20 October.

At the meeting, it was announced that “Work is underway on the design of the phase 2 filter, which corresponds to a catalyser. This equipment is currently installed as a prototype and aims to reduce white smoke and odours to practically zero. The results of this prototype will be used to complete the design of the final project by the end of 2023, followed by the construction of the real stage 2 filter in a factory in Austria.

ACI continues to work on acoustic insulation. On the north-west side of the factory, various pieces of industrial equipment and machinery will receive steel boxes, lined with cork insulation on the inside. Similarly, several ducts are being insulated with rock wool and metal sheets.

Noise reduction

To reduce noise on the west side of the factory, ACI designed two buildings to soundproof the noise coming from the Trommel and the Crusher. The urban planning permit is due to be approved and the corresponding licence issued in October. This measure is intended to considerably reduce the noise of the Trommel's operation, as well as the noise of other equipment and vehicles supporting its operation.

In order to further reduce noise, Amorim announced that it would accept a new restriction on its operating hours from the Municipality of Silves, concerning the boiler, so that it would not start until 4am on Monday morning, and the autoclave, so that it would start production at 8am. Previously, the boiler started working at 21:00 on Sunday and the autoclave at 00:00 on Monday.

To further improve communication, Amorim and the "Neighbours of the Factory" each appointed a representative to coordinate complaints and work on solutions, informing the Silves Municipality and Amorim's management. In addition, Councillor Maxime Sousa Bispo asked to be regularly informed of the progress of the ongoing improvement works.

Elaine Evans on behalf of the ‘Neighbours of the Factory’ stated that “We the ‘Neighbours of the Factory’ have not been happy over the past 2 months as a number of promises made by Amorim Cork regarding the schedule of their work to improve the noise and air pollution has not been met.

The pollution in the neighbourhood affecting Silves Golf and reaching as far as the German School and Lagoa has been terrible with billowing clouds of smoke. Also the factory in Vale da Lama, Silves has been working on weekends showing no regard for the rules set by Silves Camara. All this was proven with many dated photographs and videos which gave evidence to our complaints at the meeting.”

Adding “We have been so depressed and we encouraged our supporters to wear black at our demonstration. All promises made at previous meetings have been ignored. We feel Amorim have shown us no respect. Also, the CDDR have not shown any interest in our problem.

More promises

As you can see from the bulletin Amorim have again given us more promises regarding the installation of new filters etc. We have no alternative but to move forward and closely monitor the improvements they have planned.”

The Neighbours of the Factory’ told The Portugal News that they “would all like to thank the permanent municipal executive of Silves Town Council for their support and efforts in carrying out this participatory process, which aims to correct the environmental anomalies of the Corticeira Amorim factory in Vale da Lama, Silves, with the consequent reduction in the pollution caused by its operation, and to improve the relationship between ACI and the neighbouring population, contributing to a more integrated and participatory community in resolving matters of public interest in the environmental field.”

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