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Green campaigners claim: “The beach is not a sewer!” 

Environmental campaigners have stormed some of the busiest beaches in Tenerife to protest about “contamination” and the negative effects of mass tourism.

Greenpeace said it effectively “closed” three beaches as a result of their demonstration involving beacons and banners which read “Beach polluted by wild urbanism” and “The beach is not a sewer.”

“The beaches of Tenerife are systematically contaminated by the strong human pressure they suffer,” said a spokes-person for the goup which is calling for ugent action.

Greenpeace says it wants “a correct purification of 100 per cent of the wastewater that is discharged into the sea, putting an end to the contamination of beaches and marine eco-systems.”

In a statement, the en-vironmentalists said: “This form of protest is not coin-cidental: administrations have already closed the beaches recurrently for years due to high levels of contamination, either by the presence of potentially toxic micro-organisms such as E. coli or cyanobacteria, or by fuel spills. But coastal ecosystems, beaches and the species that inhabit them cannot escape the consequences of pollution.”

The campaigners targeted La Tejita and El Médano (in Granadilla de Abona) and Valle de Güímar (in Candelaria).

“These, like the rest of the Canarian beaches, are some of the most visited beaches in Spain due to their great beauty, but they suffer recurrent pollu-tion, either due to wastewater discharges or leaking fuel pipes that supply the islands,” the protestors claimed.

“Due to the tremendous increase in human con-structions (housing, hotels, industrial estates and infra-structures), there are not enough sanitation systems to purify the enormous amount of water consumed by the large increase in population, es-pecially during the holiday period. These constructions also need to be supplied with fossil fuels, which reach the islands through pipes often installed in fragile natural environments and that present significant risks of discharges.”

Greenpeace said that according to data from the Canary Government, the archipelago currently has a total of 394 discharges of water to the sea. Of these, 277 are not authorised, that is, they dis-charge untreated water. In addition, a total of 69 dis-charges go directly to bathing beaches. Only in Tenerife there are a total of 172 discharges, of which 113 are not authorised.

“The discharges of un-treated wastewater are illegal, as has been ruled by the European Parliament, and pose a risk to marine eco-systems and the health of the popu-lation,” the statement continued.

“Spain was already de-nounced to the European Commission in 2011 because 43 municipalities with more than 15,000 inhabitants did not comply with the European regulation on water purification that came into force in 2000. In 2018 there are still nine municipalities without comply-ing with the regulations, so that they have received a fine of 12 million euros, which will be increased by 11 million more for every six months of delay that they delay in complying with it. Among the munic-ipalities that fail to date is the Valle del Güimar, which although phase I of the works has already begun to build the treatment plant, until it completes Phase II, it will not have the capacity to properly purify all the waters of pouring. According to the central govern-ment, the full execution of the sentence will not occur before 2019, that is, with a delay of 18 years over the deadline set in the Directive (on December 31, 2000).”

Greenpeace says: “The natural wealth of the Canary Islands and the beauty of its beaches is the basis of its economic development, which is why its long-term sustainability is essential. A development model based on conservation is the best means to ensure its future. The brake on unbridled urbanisation, betting on sustainable tourism and the purification of water must be political priorities.”