Is the Junta covering up an industrial accident on our toxic beaches?

Ecologistas en Accion suspect that there is a cover up by the Junta de Andalucia over the toxic algae that has closed beaches, and is demanding to know if the massive pharmacological company Deretil has suffered any escape of algae or toxic products from their tanks in recent weeks.

They say that Dr Ignacio Flores, a marine biologist, has cast doubts on the official explanation issued by the regional Ministry of Health and said that Junta de Andalucia’s version of events is vague and unconvincing.

Also, they point out that the Junta has not actually released any of the water samples or algae studies carried out, limiting their statements to vague mentions of such algae “always being present in the sea”. Local residents have complained that no real explanation of what is happening has been released by the authorities; instead all we get are generic “calm down dears, it’s only an algae” statements.

The report by Dr Flores suggests that the algae simply do not affect respiratory systems in the way local doctors are describing. Instead, they produce intoxication via ingestion – either by drinking infected water or eating seafood or shellfish that have in turn been consuming. The Junta de Andalucia is very clear that the intoxication is being produced by “inhalation”, which can be caused just by walking near the sea, which suggests to the biologist that something else is causing the problems. However, if the microalgae are the problem, then the report suggests that the human food chain needs to be monitored to ensure that local sea food is safe to eat and warns of dangerous consequences if local sea food is toxic and consumed.

There is a local rumour going round, which Ecologistas en Accion underline in their report, that Deretil (which makes pharmacological products from, amongst other things, algae) recently suffered an industrial accident in their Villaricos plant which caused one of their tanks to be dumped into the sea. They also claim to have witnesses who have seen a strange stain in the sea near the factory.

Therefore, EeA have presented an official list of questions to the provincial Fisheries & Environment Agency which are (I’ve translated from the original Spanish):

  • Will the Junta release the water analysis reports they have commissioned?
  • If microalgae are present, is the proliferation of these due to human contamination or natural processes?
  • What measures will the Junta take to ensure that the human food chain is not affected?
  • Why is there a local rumour that Deretil suffered an industrial accident recently, and that a member of staff later died from in mysterious circumstances?
  • Why do local residents claim to have seen a strange stain in the sea at the time of the alleged accident?
  • Has Deretil reported any industrial accidents or dumping of tanks recently?
  • If they have, what was dumped?
  • What effect could this have on people?
  • What effect on the sea and sea life can this have?
  • What measures will this Department take to repair the damage and make those responsible pay?
  • And is the Junta aware of anything that is not being released to the public?
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