Sunday, October 17

Justice investigates as a criminal offense the spill that turned a Valladolid stream into black mud

The stream of ‘black’ mud that overflowed in Hornillos de Eresma (Valladolid) in early April could have criminal consequences. The Court of First Instance and Instruction 3 of Medina del Campo maintains criminal investigation proceedings open for a crime against the environment for the alleged spill that turned the Sangujero stream into a black quagmire that reminded several neighbors of the chapapote.

As confirmed by the Superior Court of Justice of Castilla y León to this newspaper, the Court is conducting evidence to determine the nature of the spill. Near Hornillos de Eresma is Olmedo, a municipality that has several factories authorized to dump waste into the stream.

The Duero Hydrographic Confederation (CHD) explains to this newspaper that there were no “signs” of “anomalies caused by sudden and uncontrolled discharges.” “It seems much more plausible that the incidence was derived from a large flood of the stream flow due to the heavy rains, which caused the dragging of mud and vegetation that grew on them with little fixation on the ground, and which ended up largely in the final stretch of the stream as it passes through Hornillos de Eresma “, points out the Duero Hydrographic Confederation.

According to the CHD data, These are the companies and administrations authorized to dump waste in the Sangujero stream: the Hornillos Town Council, Naturgy Renovables SLU for the Cogeneration and slurry treatment plant, ACOR for its sugar plant and the Olmedo Town Council. Also in Olmedo, although it does not pour directly into Sangujero, ADIF (maintenance base), Iberfresco Fresh Product Company and La Luz Urbanization are authorized.

This mud flooded the bed of the stream and increased its volume until it overflowed at some points such as plots, warehouses and roads. This “chapapote”, as the mayor of the municipality defined it then, dragged vegetation and branches through the area and raised a “horrible” smell for hours.

According to the mayor of the affected municipality, Coral López, the CHD was in charge of cleaning the stream, so the spill has not entailed any economic cost. The city council’s fight with corporate spillage in the stream comes from afar. Normally the CHD does not clean the riverbed because it is considered an urban area (Hornillos does not reach 200 inhabitants) and the City Council must be in charge, although it lacks the means, says its mayor.

The area that surrounds the Sangujero stream and the Eresma river – into which it flows – are part of the Special Conservation Areas (ZEC), which is a figure of protection for the environment. The CHD assures this newspaper that it has eliminated “most of the trawls” accumulated in the vicinity of Hornillos despite the “great difficulty” of extraction because the stream is located “very embedded” in that section.

In the following weeks, a lot of water was released into the Sangujero stream to be able to clean the channel and stop having that muddy density and blackish color. The rains of the following week also helped, which caused a flood of the stream, but even so, there are still traces of mud in which the vegetation has not finished growing.