Illegal ammonia spill kills fish and animals in Basque Country

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Ammonia
The pipe where the ammonia exited the complex Credit: Guardia Civil

THE Guardia Civil have been investigating the sudden number of dead fish and animals which occurred last May around the Arkaiz region of the Oria River in Guipuzkoa Province within the Basque Country.

They discovered that during a cleaning process of the incinerator at the Guipuzkoa Environmental Complex there was a leak and the entire contents of a tank discharged into the river over a period of four days and officers believe that this was not the first that such an event had occurred.

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There appears to be evidence of a number of failures of systems and everything indicates that the technicians who directed the operation did not give sufficient importance to the spill, nor complied with the procedures of the complex itself.

One of the security measures required that the operators needed to know the pH of the water that the incinerator itself evacuates and as this was not initiated, the presence of ammonia was not detected.

According to Seprona (the environmental arm of the Guardia Civil) it estimates, the concentration of ammonia is considered to be in the region of 25 per cent which was responsible for the environmental damage caused.


Ammonia is an essential element to reduce the pollution of the emissions caused by an incinerator, but at the same time it is highly toxic, so when a possible or actual spill is detected, the areas affected must be thoroughly cleaned.

The amount of pollution detected was 220 times higher than the established limit, which caused the death of all the fish that were in the area which included eels (a species with special protection), as well as gobies, minnows, loaches, and all macro-invertebrates.


Four people are being investigated, suspected of crimes against natural resources and the environment.




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