Huelva industrial-chemical complex, Spain


Description
The city of Huelva had a chemical complex established during the 1960s (during the Franco dictatorship) right next to the city. The different companies (currently 14) established there started already back then discharging their toxic waste into the Tinto river. Several years later, one of them (Fertiberia) also started discharging phosphogypsum - a waste product of the phosphoric acid production process -which contains concentrations of uranium series radionuclides. This radioactive waste is stored in 30 meter high piles (called balsas de fosfoyesos), covering 1200 hectares, just a few hundred meters from the town.
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Basic Data
NameHuelva industrial-chemical complex, Spain
CountrySpain
ProvinceHuelva
SiteHuelva
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Chemical industries
Specific CommoditiesCopper
Manufactured Products
Industrial waste
Crude oil
Natural Gas
Pesticides
Project Details and Actors
Project Detailsworkers at the chemical complex.
Project Area (in hectares)2700
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population150000
Start Date1964
Company Names or State EnterprisesAir Liquide from France
Algry from Spain
Aragonesas Agro from Spain
Cepsa from Spain
Enagás from Spain
Endesa (Endesa) from Spain
Ence from Spain
Cepsa Química from Spain
Fertiberia from Spain
FMC Foret from Spain
Repsol from Spain
Huntsman Tioxide
Union Fenosa from Spain
Atlantic Copper from Spain
ENEL Group (Enel) from Italy
Relevant government actorsHuelva City Council, Regional government - Junta de Andalucía, Spanish government
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersGreenpeace, Los Verdes Huelva, Ecologistas en Acción Huelva, Mesa de la Ría Platform. Formed by:, Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Huelva, Colegio Oficial de Biólogos de Andalucía Occidental – Del, egación Huelva, Colegio Oficial de Economistas, de Huelva, Delegación de Huelva del Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos de Andalucía Occidental, Colegio Oficial de Ingenieros Técnicos Forestales, Consejo Andaluz de Colegios Oficiales de, Arquitectos, Asociación de Vecinos La Morana, Asociación de Vecinos Virgen de Belén, Asociación de, Vecinos de Santa Gema, Asociación de Vecinos del Antiguo Barrio de San Sebastián, Asociación de Vecinos La Amapola, Asociación de Vecinos, Las Palmeras, Asociación de Vecinos Los Desniveles – Barriada de La Orden, Asociación de Vecinos Viaplana, Asociación de Vecinos Huerta Mena, Izquierda Unida- Los Verdes –, Convocatoria por Andalucía, Partido Andalucista – Huelva, Colectivo Ciudadano para la Descontaminación de Huelva, Ecologistas en Acción, Sindicato USO, Sindicato USTEA, Sindicato CSIF, Sindicato Unitario, Asociación por los Derechos Humanos, Fundación Utopía Verde, Odiel Radio, HIGIA - Sociedad para la Defensa de la Calidad Ambiental y la Salud, Asociación de Estudiantes Progresistas, Asociación Deportiva SOLUA, APROMA, Asoc. para la Defensa del Patrimonio, Ecológico de Huelva (ADEH), PCPA, Asociación Dos Orillas.
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 MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Architects
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Waste overflow
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
OtherRadioactivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths
OtherAccording to a helth study from the University Pompeu Fabra, Huelva has the highest rate of Cancer in Spain (1).
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Development of AlternativesTo clean and recover the contaminated areas for the inhabitants of the citys health and leisure activities.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The chemical industries are still active.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Environmental Protection Law 7/1994.

Law 7/2007, de Gestión Integrada de la Calidad Ambiental.

EU Directive 2000/60/CE.

References

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Natali, L. (2010). The big elephants in the backyard of Huelva (Spain) in White, R. (ed.) (2010) Global Environmental Harm. p.193-210

Diagnóstico de la calidad ambiental de la Ría de Huelva (Consejo Superior de

Investigaciones Científicas, 2005).

Contaminación por material particulado atmosférico en el entorno de la Ría de

Huelva (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 2007c).

valuación de la calidad de las aguas litorales y los sedimentos. (Consejería de Medio Ambiente (2000-2007) y Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas –2005-).

Análisis de las presiones (aportes) antropogénicas significativas. (Universidad de Huelva, 2007).

Daponte-Codina, A. y otros autores. Efectos a corto plazo de la contaminación atmosférica sobre la mortalidad: resultados del proyecto EMECAM en Huelva, 1993-1996. Revista Española de Salud Pública.

Franciso L. Rueda, Julia M. Palomares, Ignacio V. Rico. Atypical Thyroiditis in Huelva. Endocrine Practice Vol5, No3 May/June 1999.

Informe preparatorio de la delegación provincial de Huelva para el estudio epidemiológico sobre contaminación del polo industrial de Huelva y los riesgos para la salud. 1989.

Informe de Corpwatch sobre Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, propietaria de Atlantic Copper.

Investigación de Expascan

Links

Bajo los efectos de la contaminación. Introductory report:
[click to view]

Interview to a member of Mesa de la Ria who entered into the municipal government, proposing green alternatives for the city:
[click to view]

(1) Benach, J. & Martinez, JM. (ed)(2013) Atlas of Mortality in Spanish Municipalities and Census Tracts (1984-2004)Madrid: Fundación BBVA

Huelva.

Situación medioambiental, social y política de la ría de Huelva.
[click to view]

The geography of the highest mortality areas in Spain: a striking cluster in the southwestern region of the country:
[click to view]

Media Links

Documentary about the huelva conflict. 2012. Cero: (first part) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FFjZrtpVEI (second part)
[click to view]

Videoclip 2013:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorAmaranta Herrero
Last update04/12/2014
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