Before May 10, the Nerva (Huelva) landfill will receive 70,000 tons of hazardous waste from Montenegro and this controversial bulk transfer by a dozen ships and some 2,800 trucks has put it in the spotlight. The Andalusian PSOE has demanded this Thursday from the Board its immediate closure, while the president, Juan Manuel Moreno (PP), insists on a “progressive closure” of the plant, without specifying dates.
to ship Muzaffer Bey, that last Monday began the transfer of 5,300 tons of shot ―a dangerous industrial waste with a sandy volume― to trucks, was added this Thursday by the dakota, which carries 7,500 tons. Those 12,800 tons will be transported in 500 trucks, but for two months and before May 10, a total of 70,000 tons will arrive from the Adriatic Sea to Seville. This flow of shot, earth and contaminated stones will result in an intense traffic on secondary roads of 2,800 trucks – with about 25 tons each – in just two months, to finally bury them in the great 60-hectare sewer of Nerva.
To ensure that this is the last transfer of international hazardous waste, with the environmental risk that it implies, the Andalusian PSOE will present an initiative in the regional Parliament this Friday to urge the Board to close the dump as soon as possible. “Years ago the landfill lost its social interest and has created a war and social problems between the opposing neighbors. Now we ask for a roadmap for the responsible closure of the landfill and relocate the 200 affected people”, advances the president of the Huelva Provincial Council, María Eugenia Limón (PSOE). The Socialists are calling on the Junta, in this electoral year in Andalusia, to set up a work table with the Nerva City Council, the DSM company and the Huelva Provincial Council to deal with the closure and the situation that will cause the elimination of 40 jobs in a town with 5,300 inhabitants.
Meanwhile, the Nerva City Council increases the pressure to close the plant after the DSM landfill company stopped paying the municipal canon, which in its day was two million a year and today has disappeared. The mayor, José Antonio Ayala (PSOE), has clarified: “We will ask the Diputación for legal help to evaluate the withdrawal of the declaration of public utility and social interest. This industrial activity is based on rural land, subject to a declaration of public utility granted by a commission from the Junta de Andalucía and we want to see if it can be withdrawn”. “There is no return to this, we will use all legal tools for the responsible closure of the facility, with a way out for the municipality and the plant workers,” added the councilor. The owner of the plant, Gonzalo Madariaga, refuses to comment on the matter.
The Andalusian president, Juan Manuel Moreno (PP), has indicated for his part that the landfill “must be closed progressively, although looking for an alternative”, because the municipality “still needs it”. The Board has had a DSM company project on the table since 2019 to expand its activity and extend the burying of hazardous and non-hazardous waste for another decade, but has not yet answered despite the fact that the allegations were presented a year and a half ago and the legal term to answer them is six months. That is to say, the Andalusian Government announces that it is necessary to apply a “progressive closure”, but since June 2020 it has avoided clarifying the fate of the plant and while DSM has received toxic substances from Italy, Greece, Malta and Gibraltar.
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Moreno has highlighted that his Government has urged the company to “close vessel 1 of the six existing ones.” The sealing of this deposit 1, which contains non-hazardous waste, was carried out by the company because it had become clogged and therefore there was no more waste, recalls Ecologists in Action, which presented allegations to the landfill expansion project to achieve its closure .
The company DSM presented the extension of its environmental authorization in 2019 to the Board, which includes the so-called Nerva 2030 Projectwhich plans to raise the level of the perimeter road five meters on average to “minimize water runoff” thanks to two slopes, one inside and one outside.
This Friday the PSOE, IU, Ecologists in Action and other groups have called a demonstration in Nerva to demand the closure of the landfill. “It is time to take action, as our ancestors did 134 years ago, in 1888, confronting the all-powerful Riotinto Company in the first protest against working conditions in the Riotinto mine,” reads their joint statement to mobilize local people.
The hazardous waste dump was born in 1996 by decision of the Board chaired by Manuel Chaves and his Minister for the Environment, Manuel Pezzi, today president of the Andalusian PSOE. Pezzi’s chief of staff at the time was Juan Espadas, general secretary of the Andalusian Socialists and candidate to preside over the Board in the upcoming regional elections to be held this year.
Between 2020 and 2021, 40,000 tons were transferred from Montenegro to the Port of Seville, which added to the 70,000 tons mobilized this spring make a total of 110,000 to close the operation. The transfer of hazardous waste from the Bijela shipyard to Spain is part of the cleanup undertaken by the Government of Montenegro of the Bay of Kotor, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
60 kilometers south of Nerva, where the waste ends up to clean up the Bay of Kotor, another World Heritage Site begins, the Doñana National Park, which has embarked on the opposite path. With the aquifer overexploited for a year and a half and biodiversity in free fall due to the fact that its wetlands are disappearing, UNESCO has reminded Spain just 10 days ago that in order to maintain its international qualification it must close the farms of intensive agriculture that PP , Citizens and Vox want to legalize. The Board will rule on the matter next Tuesday in its Governing Council.
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