Aznalcollar tailings dam failure, Spain

Description
El 25 de Abril de 1998 se produce la rotura de la presa de contención de la balsa de decantación de la mina de pirita (FeS2) en Aznalcóllar (Sevilla). Como resultado aparece un importante vertido de agua ácida y de lodos muy tóxicos, conteniendo altas concentraciones de metales pesados, de gravísimas consecuencias para la región.
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Basic Data
NameAznalcollar tailings dam failure, Spain
CountrySpain
ProvinceAndalusia
SiteAznalcollar, Sevilla
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Tailings from mines
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific CommoditiesTailings dam failure
Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
En diciembre de 1987, Boliden asumió el control de la compañía española Andaluza de Piritas, S.A. (Apirsa),
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Project Area (in hectares)4600
Level of Investment (in USD)130,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date1998
Company Names or State EnterprisesBoliden from Sweden
Relevant government actorsAndalucía regional government, Spanish government, Tribunal Supremo, Consejería de Medio Ambiente
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersConfederación ecologista y pacifista de Andalucía, Ecologistas en Acción, WWF, Amigos de la Tierra, Adecuna de Aznalcóllar, SEO/BirdLife
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
OtherSe afectó marginalmente el Parque Nacional Doñana (Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la UNESCO), se creó Paisaje Protegido el Corredor Verde del Guadiamar (1998)
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Land dispossession
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Land demarcation
Court decision (undecided)
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Development of AlternativesSe creó Paisaje Protegido el Corredor Verde del Guadiamar (1998)
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.EJOs warned about the possibility of the spill, but it happened before any political institution took seriously the warnings. Moreover the firm Boliden did not pay for its environmental liabilities. It was the government of Andalusia who had to pay.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

DECRETO 112/2003, de 22 de abril, por el que se declara Paisaje Protegido el Corredor Verde del Guadiamar
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References

CSIC, 2008, Guadiamar, ciencia, técnica y restauración. El accidente minero diez años después
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Boccio Serrano, Maravillas, El accidente de Aznalcollar desde la óptica del derecho ambiental comunitario, Universidad de Sevilla
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Links

El País, 2014, Gobierno y Junta cierran esta semana la solución legal para reabrir Aznalcóllar
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El País, 2014, La reapertura de la mina marca el 16 aniversario del accidente de Aznalcóllar
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Europa Press, 2014, La Junta 'veta' a Boliden en el concurso para explotar la mina de Aznalcóllar
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ABC, 2014, La mina de Aznalcóllar cumple 16 años de polémicas desde la catástrofe del vertido
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Universidad de Zaragoza, Accidente de Aznalcóllar
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La Razón, 2011, Boliden se libra de pagar por el desastre de Aznalcóllar
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Meta Information
ContributorJoan Martinez Alier and Talia Waldron
Last update26/05/2014
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