Gharb fireworks factory decision “dangerous and undemocratic” – FAA
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ENGO Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) has said in a statement that it “categorically condemns the irresponsible decision of the Planning Authority to approve yet another fireworks factory in the locality of Gharb.”
FAA argued that, “several fireworks factories are already located in the Gharb Valley, the site of two devastating explosions in 2010 and 2012 which claimed 10 lives.”
A referendum was called by the Council in 2010 on whether the development of more fireworks factories in their locality should be permitted. Sixty per cent of residents voted against the introduction of more “deadly factories,” the FAA said. The official referendum results are shown here.
The eNGO pointed out that MEPA had refused an application for the construction of a 20-square-metre agricultural store in 2009, “yet now it allowed a 5,000 fireworks factory on the same site, within a few hundred metres of residences and of San Dimitri chapel which was recently restored.”
According to FAA the site also lies within a Special Area of Conservation “which should mean the land is protected for its environmental value. This was also disregarded by the Planning Authority,” it said.
FAA stated that it “strongly urges” the University of Malta Chemistry Department to publish the studies that have been carried out regarding the air pollution caused by fireworks, as well as the carcinogenic qualities of the of firework as residue which falls to the ground and the effect on humans who consume agricultural produce grown on this ground.
FAA also questioned how the Planning Authority “can so brazenly ignore the will of the people to protect themselves against the real threat that firework factories pose, and then go on to claim that it acts on behalf of the same community when its callous decisions are directly putting their lives at risk.”
The eNGO concluded by stating that “after ignoring all the warnings the Government and the Planning Authority Board members cannot but be held responsible for the further loss of life that may result if tragedy were to strike yet again.”