Tuesday, July 5

The map of the ghost landfills of Madrid

The type of garbage is diverse on the Camino de la Magdalena in Madrid: there are garbage bags full of earth, presumably the remains of a marijuana plantation; there are old cushions, tattered clothing, rickety furniture, broken bumpers, smashed CDs. There is everything, but everything is waste and year after year it accumulates again at this point, five kilometers between the M-31 and the La Gavia water treatment plant, in the district of Villa de Vallecas. This and 20 other uncontrolled dumps are listed in the map that the municipal PSOE has elaborated in recent months to draw attention to an inconspicuous problem: the dumps are on the outskirts and access is difficult, and what is not seen does not stain.

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On the road, which connected Vallecas with the Manzanares, the town of Las Barranquillas was built, now dismantled. And, although it has been cleaned – the residents of the neighborhood congratulated themselves on the 2020 debris removal tasks, after months of protests – the garbage always ends up reappearing. Today, in addition to this road, it accumulates uncontrollably in another 20 points of the city, “although it could be 40”, in the words of the socialist mayor in charge of the Environment, Ignacio Benito, who has spent months touring pockets of less touristy Madrid uncovering black spots. At this time they have three zones located in the district of Latina, as many in Villaverde and five in Villa de Vallecas (one quite apparent, next to the industrial estate). In San Blas-Canillejas (in the surroundings of the Lagunas de Ambroz), in Vicálvaro (already close to San Fernando de Henares) Hortaleza and Fuencarral-El Pardo are the rest.

Companies that exhaust the quotas that they can deposit each time in clean points, particular and simple “unscrupulous”, in the words of Mayor Benito, contribute to the accumulation of waste. The Socialists propose as a possible remedy to draw up a cleaning and police surveillance plan, with security cameras, drones and physical barriers that prevent passage. Also that the intervention of the administrations be coordinated. In the cattle routes, the competences are of the Community of Madrid, although the adjoining lands are municipal.

From the environment area of ​​the City Council they recognize that these practices occur. In this regard, they refer to an opinion of the European Commission at the end of 2018, towards the end of the mandate of Manuela Carmena and Now Madrid, which identifies 13 discharge points in the Community (six within Madrid capital) and ensures that since José Luis Martínez-Almeida is mayor, the City Council has acted “on 486 occasions” at those dumping points. They also assure that the new cleaning contracts will allow the collection of rubble to be increased and indicate that, outside the capital, the majority of municipalities with problem areas are governed by the Socialists.

No official inventory

At the same time, Ecologists in Action last days a report of illegal landfills in the Community of Madrid that indicates that the problem is widespread. “It’s brutal,” says a spokeswoman. In any case, an official inventory is missing. In a document from last December, the environmental organization pointed to the construction as one of the main responsible for the worsening of the problem. “The current regulations require, in theory, that the municipalities all have a municipal ordinance for construction and demolition waste, [pero] […] not all of them have turned to complying with the law”, they criticize.

Along the path to Magdalena runs with the dog Luisa, a resident of Villaverde, who says that in the two years she has been coming here, to exercise while the animal entertains itself looking for rabbits, the place “has always been like this”. She remembers that she once uploaded photos of the garbage to social networks to draw attention to the problem, although she did not notify the City Council. “But it is a natural environment, it should be taken care of,” she criticizes, before resuming the march.

The problem of discharges will be discussed next week in the municipal plenary session, and no agreement is predicted. “Municipal passivity is allowing this to grow”, criticizes the PSOE councilor from the capital, who adds: “The periphery is becoming the great landfill of the region”. They reply from the Environment that “dumps of this type are a widespread problem throughout the country” and counterattack: “The City Council appreciates the work of the PSOE to visit the illegal dumps that it ignored while supporting the previous team.”