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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New Covid-19 wave in Sweden ‘to peak at end of September’

Sweden's Public Health Agency has warned of a new autumn wave of Covid-19 which it expects to peak at the end of September.

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden 'to peak at end of September'

According to both of the two new scenarios published by the agency on Monday, infection rates are set to rise steadily over the next month, something the agency said was due to a falling immunity in the population and greater contact between people as they return to schools and workplaces after the summer. 

“It is difficult to say how high the peak will be, but it is unlikely that it will reach the same levels as in January and February,” the agency’s unit chief Sara Byfors said in a press release. “The most important thing is that people in risk groups and those who are 65 years old and above get vaccinated with a booster dose in the autumn to reduce the risk of serious illness and death.” 

Under Scenario 0, the amount of contact between people stays at current levels, leading to a peak in reported Covid-19 cases at around 5,000 a day. In Scenario 1, contact between people increases by about 10 percent from the middle of August, leading to a higher peak of about 7,000 reported cases a day. 

The agency said that employers should be prepared for many staff to be off sick simultaneously at points over the next month, but said in its release that it did not judge the situation to be sufficiently serious to require either it or the government to impose additional infection control measures. 

It was important, however, it said, that those managing health and elderly care continued to test those with symptoms and to track the chain of infections, that people go and get the booster doses when they are supposed to have under the vaccination programme, and that those who have symptoms of Covid-19 stay home.