Environmental crime: Spanish town sparks row after spraying beach with bleach to fight virus

A Cadiz town is mired in controversy over the fumigation of its beaches with bleach so local children can enjoy them during the deescalation of COVID-19 lockdown measures.

Environmental crime: Spanish town sparks row after spraying beach with bleach to fight virus
Photo: Jacinto Perez / Flickr

The  decision was taken jointly by the Neighborhood Board of Zahara de los Atunes and Association of Merchants in order to – theoretically – make the area safer for children finally leaving the house after weeks of confinement, but is being called an “environmental crime” by environmental groups.

The move has already been denounced by the Andalusian government and heavily criticised as the bodies responsible lack the authority to make such a decision, and legal action could be on the horizon as it is feared the tractors that went on the beach for fumigation could have damaged local wildlife.

Indeed some tractors have been found to have traces of plover’s eggs, which at this time of the year are in the height of breeding season.

“It seems incredible that these things still happen, a madness against the beach itself” says María Dolores Iglesias, president of the Association of Environmental Volunteers Trafalgar.

She explained that locals only became aware of what she calls the “ecological attack” after a local informed them that the “plovers they were taking care of were being killed by the men with the tractors.”

The story quickly circulated on social media and faced with public outrage, the president of the Autonomous Local Entity of Zahara de los Atunes, Agustín Conejo, was forced in a statement to the press in which he said the beach was sprayed with bleach with the intention of protecting children wanting to enjoy the coast, buthe admits that it was wrong thing to do.

Environmentalists are not convinced by this explanation, however, and believe the move could have been economically motivated. The fumigated area was not the town's local urban beach, but two kilometers away from the point where any children would have been using the beach.

Indeed it has emerged that one of the men responsible for the decision, the President of the Merchants Association, is a local hotelier; environmental groups believe the fumigation supposedly on behalf of children was, in fact, an attempt to “try to guarantee that the area is free of covid-19 for the summer” for economic purposes.

The area boasts some of the best wild beaches in Cádiz and faced with both the physical quarantine of COVID-19 and the economic shutdown it has caused, it seems plausible there is more to the fumigation than organisers have revealed.

Andalusian Government delegate for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, Daniel Sánchez, has called for “a bit of good sense”. 

By Conor Faulkner

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Public Health Agency recommends two Covid doses next year for elderly

Sweden's Public Health Agency is recommending that those above the age of 80 should receive two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine a year, once in the spring and once in the autumn, as it shifts towards a longer-term strategy for the virus.

Public Health Agency recommends two Covid doses next year for elderly

In a new recommendation, the agency said that those living in elderly care centres, and those above the age of 80 should from March 1st receive two vaccinations a year, with a six month gap between doses. 

“Elderly people develop a somewhat worse immune defence after vaccination and immunity wanes faster than among young and healthy people,” the agency said. “That means that elderly people have a greater need of booster doses than younger ones. The Swedish Public Health Agency considers, based on the current knowledge, that it will be important even going into the future to have booster doses for the elderly and people in risk groups.” 


People between the ages of 65 and 79 years old and young people with risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes, poor kidney function or high blood pressure, are recommended to take one additional dose per year.

The new vaccination recommendation, which will start to apply from March 1st next year, is only for 2023, Johanna Rubin, the investigator in the agency’s vaccination programme unit, explained. 

She said too much was still unclear about how long protection from vaccination lasted to institute a permanent programme.

“This recommendation applies to 2023. There is not really an abundance of data on how long protection lasts after a booster dose, of course, but this is what we can say for now,” she told the TT newswire. 

It was likely, however, that elderly people would end up being given an annual dose to protect them from any new variants, as has long been the case with influenza.