10,000 tons of Prestige waste remain untreated 18 years later

10,000 tons of Prestige waste remain untreated 18 years later

10,000 tons of Prestige waste remain untreated 18 years later. (EFE)

Have passed 18 years from the Prestige disaster, but the dirty footprint of the catastrophe remains in Galicia. Not only because of the environmental effects of the chapapote scattered all over the coast or because of the risks it posed to the health of the volunteers who participated in the work of cleaning. Much of the waste related to those tasks or extracted from the wreck itself, up to a total of 10,000 tons, remain untreated after almost two decades, stored in a rainwater raft, at the Somozas (A Coruña) industrial waste plant. Their survival is reflected in the project presented by the semi-public company Sogarisa for the construction of a new landfill for special waste.A total of 90,000 tons of waste were collected for treatment after the sinking of the oil tanker. Although there are no official data on the composition of the remains yet untreated, Sogarisa detailed in a 2012 report that the 80,000 tons already managed were “a very complicated mixture” consisting of 60% sand, 20% water, 12% plastics and 8% fuel. According to these figures, eight years ago, 9,600 tons of plastics and 6,400 of fuel would have been treated. That would mean that only 7.5% of the fuel and 10.2% of the collected plastics were valued, according to estimates made by the environmental association Adega. Since then, according to what is stated in the Sogarisa project, no progress has been made in waste treatment, which are still stored at the plant, just 30 kilometers from Ferrol.

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Among the elements that make up the content of this raft are also suits, containers and sands that were deposited in the security deposit and that the current concessionaire attributes to its predecessor. “It is almost obscene that it is intended to open a new landfill when 18 years after the sinking of the Prestige, the treatment of thousands of tons of waste cannot yet be guaranteed caused by that catastrophe, beyond storing us sine die “, denounces Fins Eirexas, technical secretary of the environmental organization. The previous concessionaire referred to in the report is Sogarisa, a mixed entity that now forms a joint venture with PMA and Conteco.

State law of waste and contaminated soil, approved in 2011, establishes the obligation to treat this type of waste within a maximum period of six months. Since the Prestige was wrecked in 2002, the Xunta repeatedly announced the treatment of waste pending recovery. In 2007, when just five years had passed since the accident, attributed the delay to “political and administrative causes”, to guarantee the short-term treatment of the 60,000 tons that were still unmanaged. But since in 2012 it was alerted that there were 10,000 tons pending until this new report, no treatment has been performed again, according to the new landfill project.

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The plan presented by the UTE in which Sogarisa participates alerts of the existence of this hydrocarbon-contaminated waste storage basin, which exposes as one of the reasons that advise the construction of a new landfill. His report cites a modification of the Integrated Environmental Authorization of June 7, 2018 to expose that the waste, entirely from the Prestige catastrophe, “is deposited in the old storm water reservoir of Security Deposit I”, waterproofed at its base to prevent soil contamination and sealed at the top with a neoprene tent to prevent the entry of water inside. In this deposit, which is nothing other than the rainwater raft, they are, he adds, “awaiting authorization for their final management.” The Xunta maintains that such storage does not pose any risk.

The UTE proposal involves creating a soil decontamination and treatment plant for waste contaminated with organic or hydrocarbons (PRCH). While it treats the waste from the sinking, the company must carry out a follow-up for the control and cleaning of the aggregates obtained that allows to know the composition of contaminants after the washing phase, “the project details.” The samples and analytical will be carried out by independent and approved and / or accredited laboratories, “he adds,” in accordance with international or national standards that guarantee the obtaining of data of equivalent scientific quality

The geological report

Environmental organizations warn of the absence of management of the 10,000 tons of waste from the Prestige, but also They disagree with the creation of this new industrial waste deposit, which is, of the different options it manages, the one proposed by the concessionaire in its request for Integrated Environmental Authorization. “What he wants is build a new landfill that it will host Prestige waste and other toxics and dangers from all over Spain, “regrets Eirexas. According to Adega, the new landfill that must receive all of this waste is intended to be launched without a specific geotechnical study.” It uses everything the Somozas industrial estate, but not that of the new landfill, because they consider it unnecessary. We understand that given the type of waste it will host, you must have your own studio, that contemplates seismic risk, water filtration, etc. “, affirms the spokesman for the ecologists.

“It is intended to enforce a geological report prepared for the entire complex in 2007, but we understand that in order to correctly assess the risks, the correct design and stability of the slopes and other structural factors, seismic instabilities, hydrological behavior, etc., it is essential the Carrying out of a specific geotechnical study for the new deposit“Adega’s spokesperson believes.” Failure to do so is a very serious omission and could lead to the cancellation of the Integrated Environmental Authorization, and even lead to civil and judicial responsibilities for the administration in the event of an accident. ”

The location of the industrial complex of these characteristics at the head of the Ortigueira-Mera Special Conservation Zone (ZEC), “poses a high risk to the environment and health“Adega maintains, which alerts the movement of hazardous waste, emissions to the atmosphere and the impact on the aquatic environment derived from the processing of waste, as well as risks associated with the deposit of more than a million cubic meters potentially hazardous waste.


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