“That landfill took your life and mine”

Hundreds of people have demonstrated this Sunday in Ermua (Vizcaya), on the occasion of the second anniversary of the collapse of the Zaldibar landfill, to claim that all the “responsibilities” for the catastrophe, in which two workers died.

A team from Televisión Española has been with Elena Álvarez, the widow of Joaquín Beltrán, one of the victims, whose body could not be recovered. “I always say that that landfill took her life and mine,” says this woman who believes she will no longer be the same as before the accident, “and neither will my children.”

Elena affirms that she cannot bear to hear the words Zaldibar and landfill, after 15 months of fruitless searching, after which the Basque Government considered the work finished.

“It was exhausting and even very traumatic, it was torture. And one day they tell you it’s over, that they do not look for him anymore because he will not appear, because the only thing he can do is cry, “says the widow.

A march claims “responsibilities”

Coinciding with the second anniversary of the collapse of the landfill, in which Alberto Sololuze also died, hundreds of people have walked the route between the Ermua square and the Eitzaga neighborhood, where the dump is located, with a tribute act that has included the presence of more than fifty Basque groups.

The Zaldibar Argitu platform has paid tribute to the two workers next to the landfill and has criticized the management carried out by the Basque Government.

The criminal procedure for the event is concluded after the three managers of the Verter Recycling company, owner of the landfill, agreed with the prosecution and the families of the deceased a sentence of six months in prison for reckless homicide of the two workers, with which they avoided entering prison.

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However, it remains opened a second judicial process for alleged environmental crimes, while the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament has requested additional information from the Basque Government on the collapse of the facility.

They call the Basque Government to account

Before the start of the walk, Carlos Alonso, lawyer and spokesperson for the San Lorenzo Neighborhood Association (Ermua), the Zaldibar Argitu citizen platform and the Ekologistak Martxan association, has denounced that two years after the human tragedy and the environmental catastrophe the three entities claim “responsibility”.

“Above all we remember the two people who died buried by the avalanche of garbage and debris, but we also demand responsibilities. We do not forget but we look to the future,” he warned.

As he has denounced, there are those responsible for the tragedy, “not only, although they are the first and foremost, the managers of the landfill, Verter Recycling”, but also those who should have “supervised and controlled” the operation of the facility and “they didn’t.”

“Other companies, engineering companies and consultants collaborated in the surveillance of the landfill that they should have seen and did not see how the facility announced its collapse,” he criticized. Likewise, he highlighted, “above all”, the responsibility of the Basque Government that “since 2013 it has been limited to granting successive authorizations expanding the capacity and type of waste that could be buried in Zaldibar”.

In this sense, he has denounced that, however, the Executive has not exercised “the surveillance and control powers to which he was bound.”

“Two years without Alberto and Joaquín”

This Sunday’s mobilization has had the presence of political representatives of EH Bildu and Podemos Euskadi, formations that throughout the day have criticized the management carried out by the Basque Government on social networks.

In statements to Europa Press, the parliamentary spokesperson for Elkarrekin Podemos, Look Gorrotxategi, present at the march, welcomed the decision of the European Parliament to continue investigating the tragedy after the Basque Parliament could not open an investigation commission “due to the refusal of PNV and PSE”.

For its part, EH Bildu has denounced in a tweet that, two years after the collapse, “political responsibilities are still not cleared up”, for which reason it does not accept “false closures” in this case. “Two years without Alberto and Joaquín. Two years and we do not accept false closures. Two years without purging political responsibilities. Two years later, we continue: ZaldibarArgitu”, assures the publication.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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