The poor state of the Mar Menor, which has endured several crises with fish deaths – the last one in August of this year – has begun to alarm companies of the importance of ALDI, which buy fruit and vegetables in the countryside of Cartagena, one of the main producing areas of Spain. The German supermarket companies ALDI SÜD and ALDI NORD They have requested explanations from 80 fruit and vegetable producers in the area, alarmed by “the serious environmental violations” that are taking place in this Murcian region. The companies learned of the situation after being informed by an investigation carried out by the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), a German public broadcasting network. Their corporate policy, which focuses on a “responsible approach to the environment and natural resources”, leads them to “thoroughly investigate the allegations in order to derive the necessary steps”.
The letter is addressed to farmers who have been accused of using illegal wells and desalination plants (to remove salt from the water they took from the aquifer) between 2017 and 2021. They are also accused of discharging excess water, containing nitrates, phosphates and brine from desalination, to the Mar Menor without receiving any treatment. “As a result, the lagoon collapsed causing the death of a large part of the marine fauna,” the company continues. “The corpses of marine animals were dragged to the beach in such quantity that the authorities were alarmed,” they add.
The Topillo case is in the Court of Instruction number 2 of Murcia, which considers that a total of 6.6 million cubic meters of brine could have been illegally dumped into the Mar Menor. The investigation began after a complaint from the superior prosecutor of the autonomous community, José Luis Díaz Manzanera.
The company adds that “the attempts to defend the affected fruit and vegetable producers”, which are allegedly responsible “for the uncontrolled discharge of agricultural wastewater into the Mar Menor” at the high water table. [del acuífero], “They are not very credible in our opinion, especially due to the hydrological situation and climatic conditions of the region.” Finally, they are asked to answer a series of questions before Friday of last week and “to comment on the accusations in question.”
The president of the Autonomous Community of Murcia, Fernando López Miras, has indicated this morning at a press conference that he does not know exactly the information or who ALDI has requested the information from. In any case, if a farmer has been asked to “strictly” comply with the law, they will “defend him”. But if those involved are companies that have committed illegal acts “they will have to bear the consequences of both the companies that buy their products and the weight of justice.”
The Ministry of Agriculture and Environment of Murcia yesterday contacted the Spanish embassy in Germany to try to make an appointment through the ambassador with this food chain and other interested parties, reports a spokesman for the regional Executive. “It is not just about these companies, which if they are found guilty will be pointed out by the regional government, but to transmit the controls that are applied and the quality of the products in the area,” he adds. Because it is feared that it could harm the entire sector, not just Murcia.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.