Nerja illegal rubbish dump probe reveals further malpractice

The illegal tip has accumulated 800,000 cubic metres of rubbish.
The illegal tip has accumulated 800,000 cubic metres of rubbish. / E.C.
  • The town hall is already facing pressure over the unfinished sewage works while investigations shed light on another unauthorised tip

More than a week since SUR first published the revelations over public figures’ involvement in an illegal landfill site in Nerja, the accusations and developments continue, with around 40 people under suspicion.

SUR has had access to a document that former mayor, José Alberto Armijo, signed in June 1998, authorising the dumping of rubbish in an area near to the mouth of the Río de la Miel in Nerja. The land in question forms part of the natural park of the Sierras Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama.

The dump was being used until September 2016, when it was closed by the Guardia Civil’s environment protection unit, Seprona.

Since then an investigation has been under way in a court in Torrox, and 40 people, including former mayor of Nerja Armijo, and current mayor Rosa Arrabal, are being questioned about their involvement. Other councillors, including Jorge Bravo and José María Rivas, are also being investigated, which has led to questions being asked about how such an environmental disaster was allowed to continue for so many years and why residents’ complaints went unanswered.

Armijo told SUR last Saturday that the dump was “known about and tolerated”.

While political party, Ciudadanos called for the PP, PSOE and IU to “distance themselves” from those councillors being investigated over the case last Saturday, the PP replied by asking for “coherence” and “support” for its councillors and ex-councillors.

Experts involved in the case have estimated a cost of 10.7 million euros to clean up the dumping site and the judge in charge of the case has accused those involved of supposedly creating a company to manage the site, in order to save money by not treating waste correctly which the judge has said is also tantamount to fraud.

‘Operation Rubbish’, as it has been labelled, using the English word, only adds to Nerja Town Hall’s problems with regard to the environment. Considered to be the biggest case of waste mismanagement in Spain, it comes at a time when the local authority is under immense pressure over the paralysis of its waste water treatment plant. The project, which should have been completed in 2016, is still just 76 per cent complete, due in part to financial problems faced by Isolux-Corsán-Corviam, the company responsible for its construction.

In addition to the Río de la Miel site, a further 9,000 cubic metres of illegally dumped rubbish has been accumulating in the Barranco Viejo-Loma de la Vacas area, which is private land near the town centre, since 2007. The current tripartite administration (PSOE, IU and EVA-Podemos) reported the situation to the public prosecutor last month.