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Huelva-Based Researchers Develop A European Protocol Of Action To Prevent Toxic Releases

Scientists of the Departments of Geology, Geodynamics, Palaeontology and Environmental Biology, of the University of Huelva, are working on a European project for the development of a system that allows to get to know the characteristics of the mining mud swamps in order to avoid spillages like the one of Aznalcollar (Seville) eight years ago. The project is called e-Ecorisk, is funded by the EU and researchers from five different countries are taking part in it - Portugal, Italy, Greece, Austria and the UK-, together with the Spanish National Research Council CSIC and the University of Seville and the Politécnica of Cataluña University.

According to Reinaldo Sáez, head of e-Ecorisk of the University of Huelva, ‘ the aim is to develop a system that allows to get to know the physical-chemical characteristics of the stored mining mud in order to prevent disasters like the one of Aznalcollar back in 1998; or in the event of a toxic release, to be able to manage it the best we can’.

This is why the project aims to finally provide objective information for decision-making in cases of risk resulting from mining mud swamps or any industrial spill; however, ‘it is the experts that have the last word to make any decision’, Saez said.

The field work, that is being carried out in the swamps of the company Minas de Almagrera (Huelva), has a special relevance from the environmental point of view and for the towns and villages that are around this type of swamps, as their safety would be increased with the starting up of this system.

The utility of this European project is to create an inventory of scale risk points that the European Union requests. This way, a company wanting to build a swamp would be advised as to where the best place to do it is, that is, with the lowest risk in the event of a toxic release. In addition to this, the information gathered in the project would be introduced in a centralised computer system so that in the event of an accident, experts could act in the best possible manner and not improvising actions.

Ismael Gaona | alfa
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