Toxic spill

Published: Sunday 31 May 1998

southern Spain is facing an ecological disaster following a toxic spill that has led to the flow of contaminated water and acidic mud toward the sea, say environmentalists. Poisonous waste coming out of the spill is proving deadly for everything in its path as it moves downstream in rivers and man-made channels to the Gulf of Cadiz. The flow of the waste has been diverted away from the Donana National Park, one of Europe's most prized nature reserves. Environment minister Isabel Tocino has described the ecological and agricultural damage to the region as "catastrophic". A farmers association, Asaja, has estimated that 6,000 hectares of farmland has been damaged, causing a total loss of us $10 million so far.

The problem began when a giant holding pool at the Aznalcollar mine, owned by a Canadian-Swedish company, Boliden Limited, burst its banks. After that, about five million cubic metres of waste flooded out of the reservoir into the Guadiamar River, which flows into the Atalantic ocean.

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