Coastal Authority file complaint for Tauro Beach environmental pollution from desalination outlet pipe buried under the sand, Anfi Group claim ignorance, the fences will stay up for now
Five years after the Tauro bay was closed officially to the public, due to a hastily green-lighted project to import sand from Western Sahara, as part of an Anfi Group tourism development, followed by a legal dispute with the company and the constructors of the artificial beach, Santana Cazorla; the Demarcation of Coasts of Las Palmas (coastal authority) say they have found a buried pipeline, under Tauro beach, that is pouring brine environmental pollution into the sand. This extremely concentrated seawater, a by-product of desalination, that causes detrimental environmental impacts due to its high salinity and the presence of various contaminants, is coming from a desalination plant that supplies Anfi Tauro, according to reports this morning in Spanish language daily La Provincia. An official complaint has been made to the Canary Islands Agency for the Protection of the Natural Environment to take action on the matter. The brief was apparently sent back on February 20.
The pipeline was located deep under the sand, about three meters deep, and right now a large sinkhole has been produced on the beach, due to the digging to check what is happening with this spillage. The head of Costas (coastal authority), Rafael López Orive, has explained that this forces the entire area to remain fenced off due to the danger it may pose were the beach to open. Additionally the environmental pollution caused from the brine, “spill is producing a suction effect, like a swamp, because it is making all the sand move a lot,” adds the head of the Demarcation.
Rafael Lopez Orive head of the Costas testifies in case against his predecessor Image: ALEJANDRO RAMOS
The discovery occurred during bathymetric studies, to analyse coastal depths and sand depth commissioned by the Costas, were carried out by the Costera y Oceanographic Engineering company (Elittoral) to find out what the state of the beach is following the placement of sand, and to decide, precisely, whether it could finally be reopened to bathers. Tauro was originally a pebble beach, and in 2016 the Anfi group deposited some 70,000+ cubic meters of arid desert sand, extracted from the disputed territory of Western Sahara in exchange for the concession to exploit the business of hammocks, beach umbrellas and other businesses that were planned for the area.
That plan was annulled last month, having failed to provide the necessary paperwork, ironically including a vital report from the Costas that would have allowed the work to go ahead. Several companies within the Santana Cazorla Group were also forced in to bankruptcy in a wholly separate legal action.
According to the data available to the Ministry for Ecological Transition, the brine comes from the Anfi group desalination plant, located near the beach, and as there is no outlet to take it out to sea, the environmental pollution spill remains in that same sand. The Ministry has contacted the company, who just so happen to also be the one that was granted the concession for the exploitation of beach services, despite this plan having been later annulled for not complying with the conditions of that authorisation. The Ministry report that Anfi has simply responded by saying that “they do not know anything” about this pipeline.
This timeshare and tourism group said yesterday that they do not own the desalination plant and therefore “are not responsible for it.” They have limited themselves to simply declaring that the desalination plant belongs to a third party, and that all they have is a contract for the supply of water.
In spite of everything, the Costas, who are in the processing of transferring the responsibilities in this matter to the autonomous Executive, also made clear that this same brine pollution complaint made to the Canary Islands Agency for the Protection of the Natural Environment, takes note of a resolution dated October 18, 2007 from the Canary Islands Government Deputy Ministry of the Environment, declaring the expiration of a procedure initiated, at the request of the commercial entity Anfi Tauro SA, specifically for authorisation to pump sea water from the desalination plant using reverse osmosis.
At the same time, the Costas, whose intention is that the beach can be opened to the public once these issues are resolved, announced yesterday that they will proceed to remove the entire embankment and breakwater that Anfi Group and Santana Cazorla placed in front of the old packaging warehouses that are located on the beach, as this space was never part of the 12,000 meters agreed in the concession. Although there is likely to be serious fines issued by the Ministry of Coastal Demarcation, Anfi indicated yesterday that “they are not going to remove the rubble” because they are awaiting a ruling on the contentious issues remaining, and what the courts dictate regarding the annulment of the concession and the actions that must follow.
Mogán mayor Bueno inspecting Tauro after the sands were laid
A detailed report on the state of the beach was sent yesterday by the Costas, by ordinary mail, to the Mogán Town Council, who were quick to support the project at the beginning of their administration in 2015, before distancing themselves from it claiming no responsibility whatsoever for the developments, and then subsequently expressing their desire to profit from the exploitation revenues from this beach, among others, will in any case now have to take care of security and surveillance from here on in, while this whole fiasco is resolved.
Executive director of the Canary Islands Natural Environment Protection Agency (ACPMN), Ángel Fariña has been silent
Journalists have tried to contact the executive director of the Canary Islands Natural Environment Protection Agency (ACPMN), Ángel Fariña, for his comments on the suspected environmental pollution and have so far not managed to get any response on matter, either from him or his department.