The Government is already collaborating with Asturias in cleansing pellets on its seashores and Galicia continues with out asking for concrete assist | Climate and Environment | EUROtoday

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The troops of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition start this Wednesday to collaborate within the cleansing of pellets of plastic on the seashores of Asturias, after this neighborhood has raised the alert degree to 2 and has made a request from state media, which should additionally coordinate the autonomy itself, as confirmed by each the ministry and the Asturian Executive. On the opposite hand, Galicia – which for 3 weeks refused to take this step and introduced that it might take it this Tuesday – has nonetheless not requested particular help, as confirmed by central authorities sources. In an interview on Cadena SER, the counselor of the Environment of the Xunta, Ángeles Vázquez, that “it is the responsibility of the Spanish Government to stop the tide in the sea” and that they don’t seem to be going to request the means they want as a result of the Government has to know that. The Executive responds that the pellets “are undetectable in the sea”, as Galicia acknowledged in a letter to its mayors on January 4.

“The Spanish Government has to know first-hand what means they need,” Vázquez mentioned this Wednesday, insisting that they need to know “perfectly” what means they need to make accessible. “The only thing missing would be if, having the powers, they did not do it, so that 90% of those bags that are still in the sea do not reach us in Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria or the Basque Country,” he added. .

Vázquez has given one other interview on TVE wherein he has assured that they don’t need assistance on land, however at sea. “At this moment an operation on land is not necessary, we need an operation at sea,” he assured. “What we ask, just like the rest of the autonomous communities are asking, is that the spill does not reach the beaches, that is, that the bags be taken, so that they do not break when they hit the rocks” , has continued. “We have 200 hired workers, 100 people from the Xunta de Galicia…”, he continued. “Asturias still did not put the operation into operation because it was very recent, it went from level 0 to level 2 [de alerta] in a day. In our case, the operation has been running since day 3 [de enero]″.

However, these words contradict the statements made by different spokespersons for the Xunta in recent days. On the 4th, the Galician Sea Department sent a letter to the local councils in the area informing them that they were aware of the existence of microplastics on the beaches since December 21 and that no action could be taken until they touched the beaches. “Due to its characteristics [de los pellets] It is not possible to remove this waste from the sea, since it does not remain on the surface, so these tasks must be undertaken once they reach the coast,” the letter says.

This is identical factor defended by the Ministry of Transport – accountable for maritime transport –: “The physical properties of these pellets (their size, their color) make them undetectable in the water, as shown by the fact that none of the 12 flights and 57 passes of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) satellites have managed to detect spots of these pellets, for which makes collecting it at sea unfeasible once the bags are broken,” says a spokeswoman. Furthermore, a report from the World Maritime Organization from February 2023 explains that the search at sea for such a pellets It will not be efficient.

The counselor Galician has defended his place: “How are the municipalities [Ayuntamientos] in the sea if they do not have the means and it is not their competence? The responsibility of the City Councils is the removal of the waste when it reaches the beaches, and be careful that even in the maritime-terrestrial public domain, the responsibility lies with the Government, which did not declare the emergency nor the Ribera plan, even though it is affecting waters of different countries and different autonomous communities.”

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From Transport they level out that because the day the origin of the pellets was decided, on December 20, “exhaustive monitoring has been launched – through Maritime Rescue – of satellite images and scheduled aerial surveillance in case detections were made. at sea”.

The Xunta has explained that for now there are 70 affected beaches in Galicia, and that they are working on 27 of them. And he has insisted on blaming the central Executive: “If since the 8th [de diciembre] “If the necessary work had been done by the central government, which has the powers, we would not be talking about this issue and we would not be worried.” However, environmental powers on the coasts depend on the autonomous communities.

Cleaning on the beaches

Regarding beach cleaning, a spokesperson for the Executive emphasizes that it is necessary for communities to specify what means they need and where they should intervene. “The Xunta de Galicia has not yet requested the state media that it wants us to send, despite the fact that President Rueda announced this Tuesday at noon that it was activated at emergency level 2,” he says. The Government insists that the Executive’s means are ready to intervene when required, as quickly because the autonomies specify what they want.

As the legislation indicates, at this level of emergency it is the regional governments that lead the operation, coordinate the interventions and request the means. According to government sources, the Government has asked the Xunta to specify what it needs, in order to send these troops with the corresponding material. “At this time we have still not received a response from the Galician autonomous administration,” the same sources point out.

The Principality of Asturias did make that request on Tuesday, the same day it increased the alert level to request state aid. For this Wednesday, teams from the Principality and the Ecological Transition are expected to work together – distributed in six teams – to clean the beaches of Castropol and Tapia, Frejulfe and Barayo (Navia), Bayas, Espartal, Salinas and San Juan , Playa España and Rodiles, Barrol and Poo (Llanes).

Although the ministry has not yet specified the amount of physical and human resources that will work in Asturias, nor those that will be available to other communities that request it, Ecological Transition has five logistical bases equipped with specialized material and equipment to fight against pollution and with trained personnel to undertake the necessary protection and recovery actions in the event of a pollution episode on the Spanish coast.

The location of the bases is located close to the areas with the highest concentration of accidents with pollution episodes in recent years, being located in Pontevedra, Tarragona, Jerez de la Frontera, Mallorca and Tenerife. The closest to the spill area, therefore, is in that Galician province. There are “material and human means designed to intervene in a first and rapid response to these emergency situations.”

According to the ministry, the five existing bases remain operational with first intervention material to be able to respond to an episode of contamination due to accidental spills. “To obtain this, satisfactory upkeep should be carried out on the anti-pollution tools accessible to the General Directorate of Coastal and Sea Sustainability in these bases, guaranteeing full operability and speedy availability of the tools for use.” in responding to an emergency, in the most effective and rapid way possible.” Likewise, the provision of logistics infrastructure is necessary to enable a prompt response. To this end, the bases have facilities to store equipment and means of loading and unloading and transporting equipment and materials.

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