A GRANADA court is investigating how 120,000 tonnes of a vegetable-based contaminant was allowed to enter underground water supplies.

Mayor of Atarfe Víctor Sánchez and his deputy Tomás Ruiz both face up to 18 months in prison if found guilty of environmental offences.

Judges heard how the council of the Granada town allowed five huge deposits of alpechin, a poisonous sludge derived from the pressing of olives, to be filled in with earth and rubble without the necessary studies and documentation.

The prosecution claims council officials did not want to spend money on the correct extraction of the substance, leading to the alpechin entering the Sierra Elvira aquifer. This underground water reserve is used by farmers in the Vega of Granada.

“This spillage constitutes a grave environmental offence,” a spokesman for the Junta de Andalucía regional government said.

The defence denies the charges. “I don’t know why I am on the bench,” Sánchez said.