I když je většina evropských skládek v současnosti zabezpečena tak, aby docházelo k minimálnímu úniku škodlivin do vod, půdy či ovzduší, tak je kolem nás ještě velká spousta takových, které bohužel vypadají „trošku“ jinak. Málokdo z nás do dnešního dne věděl o tom, že ve Španělsku permanentně některé skládky hoří či znečišťují životní prostředí takovou měrou, že jsou neustálou hrozbou pro lidské zdraví obyvatel v jejich okolí. Díky našem externímu španělskému kolegovi, kterým je Gerardo González Martin, Vám dnes přinášíme čerstvé informace o tom, jak by i u nás vypadala krajina, pokud bychom skládkovali veškerý náš odpad bez třídění či předchozí recyklace.

(Celý text je v anglickém jazyce. Brzy bude však bude přeložen, jen Vás prosíme o chvilku strpení!)

What if all your waste would end up in the landfill without any previous treatment or separation?

Although the vast majority of landfills in Spain are nowadays operated and maintained in a controlled manner and within legal frames, this has not always been the most common scenario. Now we can learn from the past, where waste generated from cities did not undergo an appropriate separation or treatment before entering the landfill.

We can take a few examples from the south-east region of Spain:

  • Sierra Escalona, Orihuela (Alicante)

A well-known example is a semi-closed landfill of Campoamor, located in the municipality of Orihuela (Alicante) near the Natural Park of Sierra Escalona. Having no use or maintenance for over 15 years now, this landfill still shows an important level of “activity”. How is this possible?

The landfill is currently under a combustion process – which started many years ago – and it is very dangerous to walk nearby as the ground is not stable. Moreover, all the waste under decomposition is releasing great amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and bad odours, polluting the atmosphere.

Burning landfil

Burning landfill. Source: Documentary “Basurero para rato” (El Escarabajo Verde, RTVE.es, 2015)

Up to the 90s, waste trucks used to bring all types of waste from the region, with no previous treatment, and when all European regulations on waste management came into force, the waste disposal entities simply decided to leave and move to another different landfill.

With no maintenance at all, the main Administrations are not controlling the landfill any more, it is simply abandoned. And what is more, unless all waste will eventually be removed, the landfill will continue burning.

 

  • Sierra Abanilla (Murcia/Alicante)

Another example of uncontrolled landfilling takes place in Sierra Abanilla, located in between two Spanish autonomous regions (Murcia and Alicante) and therefore in a no-man’s land with regards to waste management. Consequently, this protected area – due to its natural value – has been turned into a large rotten mountain.

For many years, up to one million tonnes of non separated waste (i.e. organic, electronic, sanitary waste, etc.) was landfilled in this area. Although the European Union ordered to close it down, the truth is the landfill has been receiving waste for many years. But why?

Created in the 90s, the corresponding Administrations, involved City councils and waste management companies collaborated together with no authorisations, and illegally took over all surroundings lands. After 2011, a change in the local government in Alicante made possible the closure of the facilities within that region, but the government across the border (in Murcia) still allows the use of the landfill.

The decomposition of buried garbage is releasing toxic landfill leachates containing heavy metals (e.g. mercury, cadmium, lead, etc.) among other contaminants. This is polluting the soil, aquifers and rivers. Moreover, the smell from polluted water streams is also affecting citizens living just a few kilometres away.

Landfil leachate

Landfill leachate from landfill located in a private property. Source: Diario Información

landfil leachate polluting

Landfill leachate polluting ground and surface water. Source: Activa Orihuela-Vega Baja

In the past, waste trucks from this region but also from other areas of Spain and even from some parts of Europe, used to dump all type of mixed waste, as there was no control and the waste did not have to go through an exhaustive treatment beforehand. These trucks used to dump the garbage and cover it with soil so trees could be planted and waste would be hidden underneath.

  • Fontcalent (Alicante)

The Autonomous Region of Valencia is reaching the capacity limit of its landfills. The solution proposed by Environmental organisations in order to decrease the amount of waste disposed in landfills is to necessarily separate waste at source.

In our last example, a landfill located in Fontcalent (Alicante), the responsible institutions have opted for landfilling instead of separating at source. Why?

Because it is cheaper and – as there is no recovery of materials – the largest fraction of waste can be easily dumped. It is a great business. Moreover, the waste management company is still gaining benefits per tonne of waste entering the treatment plant but the treatment is, in most cases, either insufficient or non-existing and the earnings per tonne of waste are never used for recycling practices.

Consequently citizens are being cheated as they pay for a certain waste treatment which is not taking place in most of the cases. On top of that, only 15% of the generated municipal waste in Alicante is separated and collected.

Snímek obrazovky 2016-08-16 v 12.01.06

References:

Video documentary “Basurero para rato” (El Escarabajo Verde, RTVE.es, 2015)

ENVIRONMENTAL DATA CENTRE ON WASTE (http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/waste)

 

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