Timon .:. | Mon, November 08, 2021 | 0
Mogán town council fined for inaction and inadequate water safety at Arguineguín local pool
The Mogán Town Council, on the popular south west of Gran Canaria, has finally had to admit responsibility for a very serious Public Health infraction, simply in order to try to reduce the fines and sanctions imposed on them by the Canary Islands Government, following a series of deficiencies detected, at the end of last year, in the maintenance of the local swimming pool in Arguineguín, popular with local residents, and used by hundreds of people every day.
Non-compliances, listed by the Ministry of Health in their report, included the absence of any corrective measures whatsoever after a periodic analysis found pseudomonas bacteria growing at the municipal facility. These microorganisms, common in humid environments, can cause infections in healthy people (otitis, folliculitis or conjunctivitis, among others, affecting eyes, ears, noses and other respiratory tracts), that, although generally mild if encountered, can become serious if they find their way into the urinary, gastrointestinal or deeper respiratory system, particularly in patients with weakened defences or who have previous pathologies.
It is probably worth noting too that during an ongoing pandemic the danger posed is arguably greater than at other times, given the nature of the pathogens involved.
The accumulation in pools of this type of bacteria, which have been shown to have developed very high resistance to antibiotics, is a clear indication of deteriorating water quality, and of environmental contamination. It is this very bacteria that is known to give off a “fruity” smell on some decomposing foods, and is difficult to remove from surfaces, making it one of the primary infections that can occur within hospital environments. There are clear protocols in place to prevent and treat contamination of this type.
The Canary Islands Health Service (SCS) opened a sanctioning file with the Mogán Town Council on September 9, more than nine months after a Regional Public Health inspector had visited the municipal facilities and warned them of numerous breaches of the current health regulations.
It was pointed out that the municipally-owned swimming pool, managed by a private company, Lude, had been failing to record particular indicators, required to determine water quality, such as the inlet volume, after being filtered, or water turbidity, which refers to cloudiness of the water which can be caused by a range of factors including bacterial growth, insufficient amounts of free chlorine, pathogens in the water or filters not working correctly, among other potential causes. The pool was also failing to verify whether water recirculation times in the pools were less than four hours, in the adult pool, or less than 30 minutes in the hydromassage pool.
The Public Health department report clearly detailed relative humidity levels above 65% inside the municipal facility and high chlorine registers, without any corrective measures being applied by the company managing the service, and without any effective involvement from town council officials.
Analyses carried out showed that sufficient disinfection in the pool was not being guaranteed. Inspection, maintenance and cleaning procedures had not been properly accredited, nor was there a control program to detail the treatment plan, water quality controls, nor was any type of revision plan undertaken.
The inspector stated in their report that it was not possible to know when the last filter cleaning had been carried out, since Mogán Town Council did not have any information regarding the water filtration systems in operation.
These deficiencies also extended to the water treatment chemicals warehouse. The inspector observed “disorder, dirt, accumulation of disused carafes” and unlabelled products, which meant that it was not possible to verify whether the substances they contained were those that appeared in the safety data sheets. The report pointed to high levels of bromine being used to disinfect and highlighted that pest control had not been verified at all in the last year.
The Public Health department imposed a fine of €3,500 for the failures and subsequent lack of action. Mogán’s Town Councillor for Sports, Luis Miguel Becerra (Ciuca), presented objections claiming that, in summary, the “corrective measures” had been carried out after the inspector detected the sanitary breaches. He also stated that, among other actions, a crash plan had been undertaken, by increasing the concentration of chlorine to reduce the presence of pseudomonas bacteria, increasing PH values so as to guarantee the power of water disinfection at the pool, and claiming that certain devices had been installed to monitor the water quality indicators in the municipal facility.
Eventually, on October 22, after the Public Health department rejected these objections, Mogán Town Council acknowledged, in a separate letter addressed to the Ministry of Health, their responsibility in the commission of this serious sanitation infraction of the law.
Their primary objective was simply to reduce the amount of the penalty by 40%, down to €2,100. Mogán’s mayor, La Alcaldesa Onalia Bueno, ordering the payment of that amount on the same day, October 22.
Water quality has been a serious issue in Mogán for several years, with what now just looks like a total unwillingness to address pre-existing problems, adding insult to injury over the last few years, by failing to act, again and again to protect public health.
Whether it be the water coming out of the taps (which repeatedly, and in many different areas around the municipality, has been announced as unsafe for drinking, cooking, or preparing food) or the frequent reports of strong smelling chemicals being detected, like chlorine, or excessively high levels of bromine forcing restrictions on its use, it is increasingly clear that the current occupiers of this town hall value little the importance of protecting public health and competently overseeing public services.
Mogán’s public servants’ standard response, to such questions of competence, is to deny that there even could be a problem, and when possible to try to point the finger of blame elsewhere, redirecting and never admitting their potential errors, until the irrefutable, inevitably, becomes a late negotiated attempt to save face, even when all the evidence points in directions opposite to their claims and protestations, this town council choose to spend public money on a raft of lawyers, on defending the indefensible.
Raw sewage is being illegally pumped into the ocean along the coastlines and there has even been a complete failure to monitor an illegal desalination plant which has been pumping brine effluent for years out into the transplanted Saharan sands of Tauro beach, which led to environmental pollution charges being filed against the company involved.
Now the people of Mogán must also cover a large and unnecessary fine, out of their municipal coffers, as further punishment for this town council’s absolute inaction, for nearly nine months, even in the face of public health inspectors having detected totally inadequate sanitation procedures at a public swimming pool.
You could be forgiven for starting to suspect that this already controversial governing group, headed up by La Alcaldesa Onalia Bueno (CIUCA), care little, if at all, about the importance of public health and safety.
Never mind the fact that they are already under serious investigation for, among several other claims, alleged electoral fraud in cahoots with other local businessmen benefiting from water services contracts, among others, and that they are all accused of organised corruption on a massive criminal scale, following a range of revelations, leaked recordings, and the still serving mayor’s very public arrest last year (not her first), along with two of her councillors, and their preliminary investigative trial, at which they have all maintained absolute silence.
We could all be forgiven for suspecting that the current governing party are, shall we say, somewhat distracted from their primary roles as public servants to the people of Mogán.
Sin vergüenza, no tan bueno, muchachos, no tan bueno.