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Media representatives attended a presentation on 15 July by representatives of the urbanisations most affected and members of C.L.A.R.O. at the site of a burning waste tip close to Las Ramblas golf course.

The burning waste tip is huge, up to 20 metres high and covering an area of some 150,000 square metres (the equivalent of dozens of football pitches). It is situated on the Pilar side of the Pilar-Orihuela border close to the Sierra Escalona natural park. It is almost certainly illegal but no longer actively used as a waste tip. However, it is no longer fenced off since much of the original fencing has long since been removed. It is believed to have been used as the dumping ground for rubbish collected from Orihuela Costa many years ago most likely at the time when there was no formal contract for this service. The consequences of operating such a service without a contract and related payment irregularities are the subject of the latest court proceedings against Popular Party councillors launched in 2009 and which will require 9 PP former and present councillors to appear in court in Orihuela at the end of July.

For many years this dump has been giving off strong offensive smells. Because it is not properly ventilated, the contents have rotted and the resulting gases have ignited. It is a serious health hazard to those living nearby and those who are on the paths of the winds which carry the probably toxic smoke considerable distances all over Orihuela Costa. Asthma sufferers are badly affected and a worryingly high number of cases of cancer have occurred among those living near to the site. It is obviously a serious environmental hazard because contaminated leakages will be penetrating the ground on which it stands and presumably the water table below. It is close to fields of orange and lemon trees which could be affected by ground and air pollution.

Despite complaints to Orihuela and Pilar authorities in the past, nothing has been done to alleviate the concerns of those affected. Alerted to their problems, C.L.A.R.O. Councillor Bob Houliston passed this information on to the Mayor of Orihuela last week. The Mayor took immediate steps to establish a report by the local police. The report fully backed up the reasons for concern, adding that the burning waste tip constituted a fire hazard due to the present drought, hot weather and winds. On the basis of the police report, Orihuela Town Hall has filed a formal complaint with SEPRONA, the Guardia Civile’s environmental police. On 14 July, with the support of C.L.A.R.O., Mr. Bob Hammond, on behalf of the 10 urbanisations close to the site in Las Ramblas, presented their own formal complaint to SPRONA.

Stressing the dangers posed by this no doubt illegal burning waste tip to human health and the environment, Mr. Hammond’s complaint to SEPRONA seeks a full report on the dump, confirmation that it is illegal and in that case action to render the dump safe and to remove the contents. It also requests the Environment Protection Prosecutor to consider if an environmental crime has been committed. No doubt the local Pilar de la Horadada Town Hall will be directly responsible for taking action to resolve the problem but all concerned in Orihuela Costa will need to follow the issue closely to ensure that prompt action is taken. The role of the media to inform the public will be very important. The health and environmental hazards are too serious to allow administrative or political inaction.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/44297/

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