THE Guardia Civil of Jaen are investigating several discharges of toxic waste into a stretch of the Guadalquivir river.

The discharges were detected by experts from the Nature Protection Service (seprona) and were located in a tributary in the Mengibar area of Jaen.

Under the guise of operation ‘Blackwater’, Guardia officers are focusing their efforts on locating seven members of the same family that are thought to be part of an organised plot to discard toxic materials into a public water supply.

Analysis showed that the chemicals are oils and fats derived from the production of bio-diesel.

It is thought that the family worked under the cover of darkness and on rainy days to disguise their crimes, whilst the company they worked under used a network of alias’ to hinder investigations.

The chemicals were detected during routine investigations of a bio-diesel manufacturing plant in Mengibar, Jaen.

They noticed a hose spilling an oily substance into a stream feeding into the Gudalbullon River, a tributary leading into the popular rafting and swimming Guadalquivir River.

Another area was discovered that contained various vessels filled with raw materials and plastic debris, most of which were leaking into the ground and river banks, leaving a dark residue and strong odour.

Samples of nearby water were taken away for analysis by the National Institute of Toxicology and Forensic Sciences of Sevilla and were found to be moderately toxic in nature.

As the river is protected by the Natura 2000 network, the act is being classed as a criminal offence.

Experts are concerned that the high concentration of metals and other toxic substances will cause dramatic damage to the local ecosystem whilst also potentially affecting surrounding soil quality.

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