NGOs criticise Coto Doñana clean-up

EU should withhold funding for "insufficient and uncoordinated" government programme, claim environmentalists

The EU should withhold funds for Spanish authorities responsible for cleaning up a huge toxic sludge spill near the Coto Doñana national park, European and Spanish environmental groups said today. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and its Spanish counterpart Adena claim the clean-up programme organised by the central and Andalucian governments is "insufficient and uncoordinated." They want the EU to conduct an independent quality control study on the operation before granting SPta16-18bn (Ecu96m) in structural funds aid that Spain has asked for (ENDS Daily 22 September). WWF does not believe the Spanish authorities' assurances that the clean-up operations are nearly complete. The group's own study reveals 30% of the land affected by the toxic sludge has still not been treated, a spokesperson told ENDS Daily. In particular, the 1,600 hectare Entremuros area at the lowest part of the Guadiamar river was not included in the official clean-up programme, he said. Environmentalists say Entremuros is an important winter habitat for up to 60,000 European birds, including rare breeds like white stork, which have already begun to arrive. Much of Doñana national park and its surroundings were severely contaminated following the collapse of a mine tailings damn in April (ENDS Daily 27 April). "The EU should not pay for a clean-up operation when so much [contaminated land] still remains," said the spokesperson.

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