OFFICERS from the Guardia Civil have arrested 12 people, are investigating 25 others and have confiscated 170 items worth millions of euros following the scandal involving an illegal dumping ground in Nerja’s Rio de la Miel.
The investigation, which began in August last year, has uncovered a potential fraud worth €2.5 million case to cover the costs that would have been incurred if the waste had been disposed of legally.
The site, which is located in the National Park of Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama, to the East of Nerja, was previously a working quarry owned by the council. The area was later used as a dumping ground for 16 years, between 2000 and September 2016.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office has labelled the landfill “a genuine environmental disaster” and has been investigating the matter following complaints filed by the Association of Construction and Demolition Waste Management Companies of Andalusia (AGRECA) and by the Spanish Federation of Associations of Construction Waste Management Companies and Demolition, for illegal and uncontrolled dumping of construction and demolition waste, hazardous waste, pruning waste as well as plastics.
So far it has been discovered the site was used and managed by a group of companies in Nerja’s construction sector in breach of council rules. These companies were engaged in major collection and transportation of construction and demolition waste, including hazardous wastes, which were subsequently dumped at the illegal landfill site.
The police believe those responsible were aware this was illegal and knew about authorised sites in the area. They say the fraudsters even issued certificates to customers guaranteeing the waste had been disposed of legally.
The site poses an environmental risk to the protected natural area Sierra Tejeda Natural Park, Almijara and Alhama, with hazards such as fire due to gases produced from the waste, some of which are flammable and at risk of self-combustion. Humans are also at risk from the site, which ran for 15 years without any controls. Investigators say they are also concerned about possible contamination of fluids into the groundwater.
Police have detained 12 on charges of alleged crimes against the environment and natural resources, documentary falsification, fraud, membership of a criminal group and environmental crimes. They are continuing to investigate another 25 people, as well as 11 legal entities.
It is believed it could cost up to €10,700,000 to clear up the site.