Francisco Tuero González, judge of the Court of First Instance and Instruction number 1 of Güímar, limits the responsibility for the illegal discharges registered in the Valle de Güímar Industrial Estate to the former mayors José Juan Lemes (Arafo), Carmen Luisa Castro (Güímar) and José Gumersindo García (Candelaria) and the current councilor Mari Brito (Candelaria), whom he accuses of alleged continued crimes against the environment and prevarication.
In an order issued on Tuesday, it accuses them that, “allegedly, they allowed, knowingly and voluntarily and since July 2013, a continuous and uncontrolled discharge of wastewater from all the companies in the largest Industrial Estate in Tenerife (with between 200 and 220 companies, he specifies) and the urbanizations of El Socorro and La Viuda». Discharge that was carried out “without purifying, treating, or legalizing”, with the aggravating circumstance that, “in the receiving marine environment, it originated, at least in 2017, a serious risk for the quality of the waters, the balance of the natural resources and the health of people, directly breaking the applicable environmental regulations.
After describing as “alleged, but serious and direct” the responsibility of the mayors of Candelaria, Arafo and Güímar between 2013 and 2017, and after specifying that the municipalities have owned the Industrial Estate since July 23, 2013, the judge attributes politicians responsible for a “passive conduct” in the fulfillment of municipal powers in the management and maintenance of “the infrastructures of the wastewater evacuation network”. For this reason, “the facilities were left in a state of absolute abandonment, with the existing buildings remaining at the head of the outfall and the pumping stations not closed and looted and the pumps and equipment not working, with signs of overflow of the discharge flow, reaching to appreciate danger to the life or health of people.
The judge emphasizes that “consciously and voluntarily, without apparent justification”, the authorities “since July 2013 omitted the administrative actions to which they were imperatively obliged in the control, treatment and legalization of wastewater discharges into the marine environment, which are precisely the ones that they did undertake since March 2017 with the initiation of the criminal case ».
A summary of 24,500 pages spread over 61 volumes that has its origin in the complaint filed on June 1, 2017 by Agustín Espinosa and Lourdes Galindo, then councilors of Sí se puede in Candelaria and Güímar, respectively, and Francis Hernández, mayor of the Left United Canary in Arafo at that time. They pointed to the Cabildo, the Tenerife Island Water Council (Ciatf), the Urban and Natural Environment Protection Agency (Apmun), the Mixed Compensation Association and the municipalities of the Güímar Valley as responsible. They argued that the organic contamination indicators multiplied the legally admitted values by 30, a figure that raises the order issued this week to 38 based on the analyzes carried out on the samples collected at seven points near the submarine outfall.
The judge affirms that this structure does not conform to the original project, since it measures 736.50 meters (157 land, 540 underwater and 39.50 from branch II). It also mentions another municipal breach; «the Urban Conservation Entity (EUC) that would allow the optimal management and maintenance of the Estate, mentioned repeatedly in those agreements (with the initial ownership of the Estate) and whose constitution had been assumed, as an obligation, by the three City Councils, was not created , neither before the reception of the urbanization nor after».
there will be resources
While the mayor of Candelaria, Mari Brito, announces that she will appeal the judicial order and explains that she is limited to working to solve the problem of discharges, and while Carmen Luisa Castro, former councilor of Güímar, also says that she will appeal the judge’s decision and remember that the competence in this matter is supra-municipal (pointing to the Cabildo and the Insular Council of Waters of Tenerife), Sí se puede and Izquierda Unida Canaria (IUC) announce that they are preparing “the accusation against those responsible for the discharge of residual water in the Güímar Industrial Estate”. Both organizations underline “the importance of their complaints to stop the biggest environmental attack against the coast of Tenerife” and celebrate that, after five years, “the court has passed a decisive phase of the procedure, which will give way to the opening of a trial oral, in which the facts and criminal responsibilities will be finally established. Likewise, they announce that they will study political reactions in the municipalities of Valle de Güímar, where these two parties maintain their representation.
The parties that denounced and gave rise to the case, Sí se puede and Izquierda Unida, announce that they are preparing the accusation against the alleged political leaders
The eco-social transition spokesperson for Sí se puede, Rubén Fuentes, draws attention to the fact that “they have turned the Güímar coastline into a desert, caused by uncontrolled industrial discharges for decades.” He affirms that “they have destroyed marine biodiversity in an environmental attack that for the Valley is equivalent and as serious as the extraction of aggregates in the Güímar ravines, that is why we had to demand responsibilities. We are in a phase in which the oral trial will establish who is criminally responsible, but, in any case, we have to remember that, in this matter, all the administrations have acted negligently”.
The island co-spokesperson of the IUC in Tenerife and councilor in the Güímar City Council for the coalition made up of IUC and Sí se puede, Nayra Caraballero, highlights that “the order reinforces and gives value to the complaints that both organizations have expressed publicly for more than ten years in the three municipalities affected and that were consciously ignored by those who had positions of responsibility in environmental quality. There has been and continues to be an obvious risk to people’s health and the quality of the waters, which affect our entire marine ecosystem. Even today, a large amount of waste is discharged that triples the permitted levels of contamination”.