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Massive dumping of microplastics on the Galician coast triggers an environmental crisis

A devastating spill of microplastics, coming from a cargo ship sailing off the Galician and Portuguese coasts, has plunged the Muros e Noia estuary, in the province, into an environmental crisis. from A Coruña. Millions of small plastic pellets, less than a centimeter in diameter and used in various industries, have contaminated the beaches of the Rías Baixas since December 13.


The pellets reach the coasts of Galicia

The alarm has been raised by affected neighbors, who, through the Noia Limpa platform, have denounced the impassiveness of the authorities in the face of the magnitude of the disaster. So far, they have collected at least 60 bags of 15 kilograms each of these microplastics, evidencing the urgency of the situation.


The lack of immediate response from the administrations has triggered an unprecedented citizen mobilization. Faced with social pressure, both the State Government and the Xunta de Galicia have announced the activation of an emergency plan. However, the contingency measures arrive almost a month after the first signs of the spill, exposing Galician marine ecosystems to severe pollution.



Lack of Transparency and Responsibility


The ship responsible for the spill, identified as the Tocano, would have left Algeciras on December 5, traveling through the Fisterra corridor to finally arrive in Rotterdam on December 10. The Xunta and the Ministry of Transport have not provided details about the contingency plan or the exact causes of the spill, although it is presumed that it came from the loss of merchandise by the cargo ship.


Unofficial Maritime Rescue sources indicate that the ship would have lost its cargo at sea during its journey. The company responsible for the pellets, Bedeko Europe, based in Poland, has been linked to the incident, and some bags with its brand have reached Galician beaches.


Which of the following options do you think best describes the response of the authorities to the dumping of microplastics on the Galician coast?

  • I trust that the authorities are taking appropriate measures

  • I feel that the lack of action and recognition of the risks



Denial of Risks and Lack of Preparation


Despite the obvious environmental implications and health risks associated with microplastics, the Xunta de Galicia has adopted an alarmingly dismissive stance by denying that the dumped pellets are " toxic or dangerous. This blatant denial of reality raises questions about the seriousness with which authorities address environmental problems.


The Xunta de Galicia, worryingly, has ruled out raising the emergency level, despite the magnitude of the spill and the clear indications that it is an environmental disaster . This lack of recognition and reluctance to take urgent action demonstrates a lack of commitment to environmental protection and public safety.


The councilor, for her part, announces a team of 200 people to clean the affected beaches. However, this measure, although necessary, comes late and seems more like a reactive response than a preventive one. The lack of preparation and an efficient contingency plan is another reflection of the lack of attention and foresight on the part of the competent authorities.


Microplastic pellets accumulate in Galicia

The situation has sparked comparisons with the 'Prestige' disaster, and environmental organizations warn about the "terrible" for ecosystems. While waiting for effective coordination between the authorities and volunteers for the cleanup, the State Attorney General's Office has initiated proceedings to determine possible responsibilities and crimes related to the spill.


This episode highlights the magnitude of the global problem of plastic and microplastic pollution, underscoring the need for stricter measures internationally to prevent similar tragedies and protect marine ecosystems.


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