This past week we have learnt about a gigantic tyre fire in Seseña, Toledo, 20 miles south of Spain’s capital Madrid, that has been set supposedly on purpose to the biggest tyre dump in Europe, which is illegal, incidentally.
While the tyres are still burning (and will be doing for some time), from this Applied Technical English blog we want to give some clues for the debate.
Who is behind the cause of this fire and the reason why is still unknown -was it a pyromaniac, was it someone working for someone else for a mysterious reason? What we do know is that the fire (which fortunately enough has not provoked human casualties nor direct material damage other than the tires) has released the equivalent to one year’s toxic substances for the whole country. Therefore, 9,000 inhabitants of the surrounding areas have been temporarily evacuated to avoid breathing the highly carcinogenic plumes.
Surely enough, the author of the fire may be confronted to a severe sentence, but the point is: could we have done something to prevent this disaster? The question can be easily answered “yes”; that leads to an obvious second question: “then why didn’t we do it?”. This second one is more difficult to respond to. The tyres wouldn’t have burnt if they weren’t at the spot in the first place; such is what we believe within this Applied Technical English blog.
The dump started running in 2002 with a local activity licence as a recycling plant, and an environmental impact statement was approved by the regional authorities of Castilla-La Mancha, but it was soon after decreed into a standstill by the environmental authorities. Since then, nothing went right: the activity went on in spite of the official stoppage, and the company was fined for breaking the Environmental Impact Assessment Act. Three years later, the owner was sentenced for damaging the Environment. That is when the said owner fled from justice and the dump with its 5,000,000 tyres were declared abandoned.
What the abandonment meant was that the Authorities had to solve the problem of removing the enormous heap of tyres within ecological procedures. It was the Council of Seseña that had to cope with the problem, and that implied extraordinary means. The Council asked the Regional Authorities for aid, while it became evident that the dump had actually grown off-limits onto the municipality of Valdemoro, in Madrid, thus implying two local authorities (Seseña and Valdemoro) plus to regional authorities (Castilla-La Mancha and Madrid); the Spanish central authorities had to intervene, too, summoned by the European Union.
Intervention on these type of environmental issues implies a great cost and little social acknowledgement, therefore many politicians are more keen on finding an escape goat than really assuming a practical roll.
For further information about this case please follow the link we suggest you at this Applied Technical English blog.
Autor: Patrick Castelli Cirera, profesor del Máster Internacional en Ingeniería y Gestión Ambiental