ENVIRONMENTALISTS have been left outraged after local authorities in the coastal town of Zahara de los Atunes, near Cadiz, used bleach to disinfect their local beach just hours before children were due to visit for the first time in months.
Tractors drove the length of the beach area, spraying a bleach solution in an attempt to clear the area of any infection but instead, caused ‘brutal damage’ to the local ecosystem and potentially could have harmed hundreds of people.
The local authorities have been forced to apologise for their massive blunder, but environmentalist groups are seeking more.
Leader of a volunteer environment group in Cadiz, Maria Dolores Iglesias, visited the beach after the substantial damage was done.
“It killed everything on the ground, even insects, there is nothing left,” she said.
“Bleach is a very powerful disinfectant and it is understandable to use it in urban areas, but on a beach the damage has been brutal.”
Iglesias described how the area was a protected site for the conservation or rare and migratory bird species, and that since the bleaching, she has seen at least one nest with the eggs destroyed by the tractors.
“They have devastated the dune area and gone against any better judgement,” she continued, “it has been an aberration what they have done, especially when the virus lives in people and not on the beach.”
Since the state of alarm began in mid-March and the whole county has been on lockdown, more and more wildlife have been entering urban areas and spaces that would normally be inhabited by humans.
“Since the humans have disappeared, the beach has its own way of cleaning itself, this was not necessary”
In response, local official Agustin Conejo admitted it was a ‘wrong move’ and that it was carried out with the ‘best intentions’.
Insisting that it was authorised to prepare the beach area before children visited the coastline for the first time in weeks, Conejo, as well as the rest of the local governing board have been urged to be held accountable for their actions.
The Andalucian regional government are considering fining the local authorities for their ill-advised actions but unfortunately the damage had already been done.
The actions also gained the attention of Greenpeace Espana, who likened the move to something out of the Trump administration, drawing comparisons between Zahara de los Atunes and Trump’s comments that people should inject bleach to rid themselves of the virus. “Fumigating beaches in the middle of the breeding season for birds or the development of the invertebrate network that will support coastal fishing is not one of Trump’s ideas, it’s happening right here in Zahara de los Atunes,” they tweeted.