In addition to continuing to be charged in the case of urban corruption of Novo Carthago and the case of fraud and embezzlement of the Escombreras desalination plant, the prosecution has requested one year and nine months in prison and nine of disqualification for the former Minister of the Murcian Government of Agriculture and Water Antonio Cerdá for the Topillo case, which investigates crimes against the environment due to the contamination of the Mar Menor.
The prosecutor for environmental crimes, Miguel de Mata, has demanded the same sentence for the former Water Commissioner of the Segura Hydrographic Confederation (CHS), Manuel Aldeguer, while he has requested sentences of between six months and six years in prison for 41 businessmen and, in some cases, disqualification from managing agricultural companies and compensation for civil liability that can exceed two and a half million euros for contaminating the salty lagoon with nitrates from illegal desalination plants.
Cerdá held the position in the Ministry of Agriculture of the Murcian Government from 1999 until his resignation in 2015 when he was charged in the Novo Carthago case. Previously, he had been a regional deputy and spokesman for the Popular Parliamentary Group in the Region of Murcia from 1983 to 1991.
In the letter, which was notified to the parties on Tuesday and to which elDiario.es has had access, the former president of the CHS María Rosario Quesada is exonerated, considering that her actions were not relevant enough to constitute a crime. .
The public ministry, on the other hand, has requested another 21 months in prison for the former Water Commissioner and current General Director of Water in the Generalitat Valenciana, Manuel Aldeguer, for allegedly being aware of the existence of a large number of illegal drilling and desalination plants in Campo de Cartagena that were not inspected. “In short, the CHS was aware of the existence of a large number of drilling and desalination plants in the Cartagena field that lacked administrative authorization, and that this was an environmental problem of the first order,” says the prosecutor in the document.
Nitrates from agriculture and the ‘rejections’ of the desalinizers, “the main cause of contamination of the Mar Menor”
The provisional brief of conclusions states that the “significant deterioration” that the Mar Menor has suffered in recent years is due to the activities that “have been carried out in its surroundings for decades, urban pressure, intensive agriculture, tourism, mining, etc. “, although it specifies that the nitrates from agricultural activity plus the ‘rejections’ from the desalination of the water extracted from the aquifers “although they are not the only source, it is the main cause of nitrate contamination in the Mar Menor and the Quaternary aquifer.
“The entry routes for these elements are, on the one hand, surface water through the network of streams that drain the catchment basin, the main channel being the Albujón stream, and, on the other, groundwater from the Quaternary aquifer of Campo de Cartagena”, the prosecutor abounds.
Network of brine pipelines in Campo de Cartagena
De Mata explains in the letter that “one of the ways of reaching the Mar Menor of the reject water loaded with brine and nitrates, coming from the desalination plants without authorization used by some of the farmers accused in this letter, was through the junction of the outlet pipes from the corresponding desalination plants to the existing brine pipeline network in the Cartagena field and which, to a large extent, came together in a conduit that emptied into the Rambla del Albujón, under the bridge and about 50 meters from its mouth. Another of the main branches of that network of pipes that formed the brine pipeline emptied into the Rambla de Miranda”.
The prosecutor for environmental crimes collects in the letter the “wide regulations that impose, both on authorities and farmers, the observation of surveillance and control measures” to reduce toxic discharges into the lagoon and emphasizes that in the action programs of obligatory compliance with “2003 and 2009 regulated a multitude of guidelines aimed at farmers related to the use of nitrogenous fertilizers” and the maximum dose that could be used, “limiting them in any case to 170 kg per hectare and year”.
The environmental disaster in the lagoon has been brewing for years, but the last five have been especially dramatic for its waters: from the ‘green soup’ of 2016 to the second episode of massive fish and crustacean mortality last August.