I play soccer in a large park in the eastern part of Salamanca. West of the park are the train tracks and on the other side of the tracks is a large elementary school, immediately east of the park is a nearly 100 year-old ammonium fertilizer plant. Map here
The plant's smoke stacks are pretty short since the plant was built way before that part of town had anyone living there. This means the smoke doesn't travel all that far from the plant.Â The lucky thing for the students and park users is that the winds blow the smoke south, not west (generally). This is bad news for the soccer field that is just a little bit further south of the plant. My Air Pollution professor explained how he used to play on that field when he was younger and how you would get mild rashes or slight chemical burns from the grass. He said now practically no one uses that park. If the wind blew to the west, my park would not be nearly as healthy and breathing would be a lot more difficult when playing soccer. Knowing whether or not you live near a large source of air pollution is very important, but knowing the wind patterns in your area is important too.
There were plans to close down the plant and move it far from town, but due to the global economic crisis, they can't afford to do that. And since they want to move the plant there is no point in upgrading its pollution filters or extend the smoke stack. So we still have a toxic and useless soccer field to the south. The silver lining is that this fertilizer plant doesn't make its own sulfuric acid, a chemical needed to make inorganic fertilizer whose manufacturing process is very polluting; it buys the chemical from factories in less populated areas.
Supposedly, this plant is a pretty important one in Spain as it satisfies a large percentage of the ammonium fertilizer needs of the nation and since it exports to other EU nations. But right now, it looks run down. My ball went over the wall the other day while I was playing soccer so I hoped the fence thinking it was some abandoned factory. I was very surprised when a guard came out and told me I was not allowed there. Here is to hoping that the economic situation improves so the factory can be moved further away from children.