A Murcia judge says there is evidence of an ‘environmental crime’ in his probe of 38 agricultural businesses accused of illegally dumping 5.9 billion litres of desalinated water into the Mar Menor lagoon.

A firm that supplied desalination equipment is also being investigated in the so-called ‘Topillo’ case.

Judge Angel Garrote is also pursuing charges against ex-Murcia government ministers and the former head of the Segura Hydrographic Confederation.

His damning words said regulatory officials had a ‘permissive attitude’ and ignored the need for mandatory inspections of agricultural enterprises.

He said there’s plenty of evidence to suggest the nitrogen-based water dumping caused severe pollution in the lagoon.

A document detailing every transgression committed by the 38 businesses and the desalination company has been published as preparations continue for oral testimony to be heard by Garrote in Murcia.

The judge makes it clear in a written paper that ‘agricultural discharges were likely to create catastrophic, irreparable or irreversible damage’.

The high nitrogen content of water coming in from the Campo de Cartagena into the Mar Menor lagoon has had a severe negative impact on its eco-system.

Dead marine life unable to survive in the polluted water has floated to the shore with the last incidents occurring in the summer.

The judge said that ‘a good part’ of the surplus nitrated water ended up in the lagoon via aquifiers or through excess irrigation.

He added that the 38 agricultural companies used ‘clandestine, unauthorised wells’ and many desalination plants were ‘buried, hidden, or very well camouflaged.’

Angel Garrote’s document also refers to secondary pollution caused by urban phosphate and potassium discharges, which impacted on the lagoon.

“There is an overwhelming amount of scientific and technical documentation that supports what caused the pollution, “ he concluded.

It’s not known when the oral hearings in the probe will be begin.

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