The Civil Guard investigates an illegal ammonia spill in Guipuzkoa

The SEPRONA of the Civil Guard investigates 4 people responsible for the start-up of the Guipúzkoa Environmental Complex

A continuous discharge of ammonia has been located that has seriously affected the fauna of a tributary near the Oria River

The Civil Guard within the framework of the "Ammonio" operation has investigated 4 people for crimes against natural resources and the environment, related to the appearance last May, in the Arkaiz regatta of the Oria river, a large number of fish and other dead animals on the banks.

Ammonia leak

During the cleaning process of a hose after the unloading of a truck in the incinerator of the Guipúzkoa Environmental Complex, there was a leak due to the malfunction of components of the installation, which caused the contents of the tank to be dumped into the river. Among the various failures, everything indicates that the technicians who directed the operation did not give importance to the spill, not complying with the procedures of the complex itself.
When the agents of UCOMA (SEPRONA's Central Operational Environment Unit) investigated the events, they were able to verify that the incinerator was operating under Temporary Business Unions (UTE's) with different responsibilities, for which the collaboration of EUROPOL.
One of the security measures to know the pH of the water that the incinerator itself evacuates was not activated, so the presence of ammonia was not detected, whose concentration is estimated at 25%. The Technical Unit of the National Central Office of SEPRONA is preparing and coordinating reports of environmental damage.
The spill lasted 4 days and as a result of the investigations, the agents have discovered that this could not have been the first spill with ammonia into the river, and at least one more could have occurred.

Environmental damage

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 spill or spill is detected, authorized managers are those who must be in charge of cleaning the spaces affected. The amount detected was 220 times higher than the established limit, which caused the death of all the fish that were in the regatta.
The physical-chemical quality of the waters during a period of time was affected and seriously modified, approximately 2,200,000 liters of water with ammonia were poured, making it incompatible with the life of the fauna of the environment, damaging the balance of the systems natural. Among the fish found dead were eels, (anguilla anguilla), a species with special protection, as well as gobies, minnows, loaches, and all macro-invertebrates.
Collaboration with various organizations has been essential to clarify the facts, including the Basque Government, the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa, GHK Consorcio de Residuos, the Basque Water Agency and various companies involved in the construction and start-up of the complex .
The investigation was initiated by the Delegated Section for the Environment of the San Sebastián Prosecutor's Office and the proceedings have been delivered to the Examining Court No. 5 of San Sebastián and carried out by the Central Operational Unit for the Environment of the Civil Guard.


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