Although not all agreed in time or space, there is a point in common between all the former public officials who have already testified in the macro-trial for the fire of a hazardous waste plant in Chiloeches five years ago: none knew almost nothing, it was all up to the technicians. One by one, the six former high-ranking public officials of the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and the former mayor of the Alcarreña town, have clung to this argument, questioned by the Public Prosecutor’s Office in the first appearances of the trial. They only signed the documents that the technicians sent them and it was the latter who decided. According to their defense testimonies, this was always the case in 2007, the year in which the first irregularities in the facility were detected.
Former senior officials contradict the authorization by which the burned plant in Chiloeches continued to operate despite its deficiencies
The first keys to this argument were made clear in the first session of the trial by the mouth of the who was director general of Environmental Assessment from 2005 to 2008, Miguel Ángel Yuste, for whom the Prosecutor’s Office asks for 28 months of fine of daily quota of 20 hours and 12 years of disqualification, for the crime of environmental prevarication; and Carlos José Blázquez, who held that same position from 2009 to 2011, and for whom the Prosecutor’s Office requests three years in prison for the same crime. Both went so far as to contradict each other in the administrative formula with which the 2008 environmental authorization was approved by which the burned plant continued to operate, then owned by the Kuk Medioambiental company, also charged in the process.
The facilities already had violations since May 2007 for spills and spills but Yuste maintained in his statement that he did not know the details of the file because “there were thousands” and that if the technicians considered that the violations continued, they would have notified him. “If they don’t tell me anything, I think things are going their way. “They are trained for it and I, as CEO, if they tell me something, I will not question it.”
Thus, asked if he was not interested in the result of the requirements of the technicians, he replied that he was not dedicated “to a file a day.” “I would not know how to manage it either, nor do I have the knowledge to go into the ins and outs of a specific file,” he stressed. And shortly after, he added: “A CEO is not with all the files on the table.” For his part, his successor in office offered another version of the same file, but also claiming that it obstructs the criteria of the technicians. “A CEO does not enter the guts of a file”, was one of his arguments.
The defense of the next two former senior officials was not very different, except for some nuances. For example, the general director of Quality and Environmental Impact of the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha from 2011 to 2015, Matilde Basarán; and the head of the Environmental Quality Control Service in the period from May 2013 to the present, Olga Villegas, also accused of a continuous crime of prevarication, confirmed that they carried out the work in accordance with their competencies and hinted that they had never tried to favor anyone in their work.
Both pointed out that their actions were always carried out with criteria and following the procedures established in their respective departments without anything having been done either to favor or to harm the company that owns the plant, Kuk Medioambiental, where they were supposedly working from had been using toxic materials for some time without being authorized to do so.
But the dance of competitions and the technical complexities continued in subsequent appearances, as happened during the interrogation of former Deputy Minister for the Environment Sergio David González Egido, who was in this position between 2015 and 2016, and was previously the provincial delegate for the Environment in Guadalajara. He was dismissed as vice-counselor shortly after the incident in which 20,000 tons of hazardous waste burned, although at the time he defended that it was he who requested the resignation for personal reasons.
He also denied favorable treatment to the companies that managed the burned plant and hid behind his “political” position to avoid any responsibility in the fact that these facilities had authorization to treat more waste when deficiencies and irregularities were already found in the past. .
Like other former senior officials, he stated that he did not enter “into the details of the files and that he signed them trusting the criteria of the technicians.” González Egido is accused of a crime of environmental administrative prevarication and the Public Prosecutor’s Office requests for him a sentence of thirteen years of special disqualification for employment or public office, three years in prison and a 22-month fine of 20 euros a day. Asked about his role in various administrative procedures related to these facilities, he argued: “It is the technicians who evaluate and write it, I do not intervene in the administrative management. He assumed that what he signed was in accordance with the law ”.
Before González Ejido, declared José María Michelena, head of the Industrial Environment Service in 2011 and, successively, Head of the Prevention and Environmental Impact Service until now, for which the Prosecutor’s Office requests two years in prison for environmental misconduct. In his case, part of the testimony before the prosecutor focused on the request for information from the management company of the plant due to its urban incompatibility, asking if none of his predecessors informed him, when he took office in 2011, that the plant did not had a “compliance philosophy” of the rules. “Nobody told me about it. But everything was done in accordance with legal services. We ask the Chiloeches City Council and the company for information ”. Later, and before that dance of competitions, he stressed that it was the City Council that had the competence to close the plant.
Similarly, regarding the fact that the Layna Group, which started to manage 90% of the plant in October 2015 and is also accused, said that it was not aware of this because “it did not appear in the file”; And like other former senior officials accused, he has held the technicians responsible for being the decision-makers. “I did not review that file in detail, my participation in this is to authorize the work that the technician prepares.”
The former mayor’s statement
And this last week there has been one of the most important statements, that of the former mayor and former councilor for Urbanism of Chiloeches, César Urrea. It has been the last public position and the politician for whom the Prosecutor’s Office requests a greater prison sentence: 14 years of disqualification and five in prison for a continuous crime of environmental administrative prevarication. His defense was very similar. He said that he had learned “everything” about the investigation process in this case, both about the illegal situation of the plant due to the lack of urban compatibility report, and about the actions that were being developed there. In other words, he was unaware of the alleged criminal scheme for the management of hazardous waste that, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, operated from the plant.
He also claimed to be unaware that, during the time he was Town Planning Councilor, the facilities did not have an opening license, although he was certain that they were working. He found out when he got to the mayor’s office. From that moment on, he explained that the municipal technician explained to him that Kuk Medioambiental had two warehouses outside the urban planning, for which he asked him to legalize the situation. Asked if at any time he decided to adopt any precautionary measure in light of the information from the Autonomous Administration that hazardous waste was being treated when there was only a license for plastics, he has repeated: “Nobody tells me that there was a illegal situation “. Later, the situation was “resolved” in May 2012, but he reiterated that he only signed “what the technicians told me. I am not a technician.”
The macro-trial continues in the Provincial Court with the statements of the other fifteen defendants. It is scheduled to last until December.