Heavy metals from Spanish toxicspill pose food threat

05 June 1998

Heavy metals from Spanish toxic
spill pose food threat

THE spillage of toxic waste in one of the most environmentally sensitive areas on earth is threatening the wildlife of two continents. The affected area is in the Doñana National Park in Las Marismas, the Andalusian marshlands between Seville and the sea.

Disaster struck on April 25 when the retaining wall of a waste reservoir collapsed at a Swedish Canadian mining plant north-west of Seville.

Some 158,000 tonnes of waste containing heavy metals and other toxic material were sent oozing down the River Guadiamar towards the park.

The Spanish Young Farmers Association claims that some 566.88ha (1,400 acres) of land, which was not covered in waste from the toxic spill, is irrigated by systems that draw water from wells feared to have been polluted.

Metals in the mud – zinc, lead, copper and silver, will be seeping into the soil, creating a hidden peril for people.

Such metals could cause problems of infertility growth, sexual and neurological maturity. They could also suppress the immune system and cause some cancers, warned biologist Carlos Vallecillo.

  • The Guardian 05/06/98 page 18

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