EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Document 51998IP0492

Resolution on the environmental disaster caused by the breach in the tailings dam at the Aznalcóllar mine (Seville) , in the vicinity of the Doñana national park

OJ C 167, 1.6.1998, p. 227 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)


Resolution on the environmental disaster caused by the breach in the tailings dam at the Aznalcóllar mine (Seville) , in the vicinity of the Doñana national park

Official Journal C 167 , 01/06/1998 P. 0227

B4-0492, 0508, 0521, 0531 and 0548/98

Resolution on the environmental disaster caused by the breach in the tailings dam at the Aznalcóllar mine (Seville), in the vicinity of the Doñana national park

The European Parliament,

- having regard to Council Directive 85/337/EEC of 27 June 1985 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment ((OJ L 175, 5.7.1985, p. 40.)), and the proposed Directive on Strategic Environmental Assessments (COM(96)0511) ((OJ C 129, 25.4.1997, p. 14.)),

- having regard to the Ramsar Convention (wetlands of international importance),

A. alarmed at the ecological, environmental, agricultural and social disaster caused by the breach in the tailings dam at the Aznalcóllar mine (Seville), owned by the Swedish multinational company Boliden-Åpirsa, in the vicinity of the Doñana national park,

B. whereas the flow of over 5 million cubic metres of toxic waste has polluted 4200 hectares of land, including 2000 hectares of farmland, affecting seven townships and 46 000 people,

C. whereas the Doñana national park, which is the largest in Europe and was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1994 and a special area of conservation under the Habitats Directive, is being seriously affected by the flow of toxic waste, which must require precautions and special measures to be taken to prevent the present situation from being repeated, either in the park or in the area around it,

D. whereas the emergency measures taken have so far prevented the toxic flow from directly affecting the heart of the Doñana national park, though it has affected the surrounding area and the Agrio and Guadiamar rivers, while the long-term effects are as yet unknown,

E. whereas serious damage has been done to the ecosystem, agriculture, fisheries and tourism in the affected areas,

F. whereas the Maastricht Treaty emphasizes the fundamental importance of Community environmental protection and whereas the Amsterdam Treaty strengthens and consolidates the principles which form the basis of such environmental protection; whereas, in addition, the directive on wild birds is of particular relevance in the case of the environmental incident under consideration,

G. whereas the company has recently been funded by the European Regional Development Fund,

1. Expresses its solidarity with those affected;

2. Notes that the Spanish Government and the Andalusian Regional Government have set up a body to coordinate their efforts with a view to remedying the situation;

3. Considers it desirable to establish a scientific advisory and assessment committee within the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain¨s highest public research body);

4. Considers it essential for the action plan which is currently being implemented to include arrangements for extracting and disposing of the contaminated mud in a way which complies as closely as possible with EU environmental protection law;

5. Recalls that hundreds of toxic chemical substances are to be found in numerous reservoirs in the EU, more specifically in the North Sea and in the Baltic, and could bring about the same type of disaster;

6. Considers that, as a matter of urgency, a plan to clean up the contaminated areas must be devised, with EU observers, and arrangements for compensating the people and the economic activities affected must be brought into operation immediately;

7. Calls on the scientific community, environmental groups and the EU institutions to provide all necessary assistance and to take part in the major clean-up operation for the area;

8. Together with the relevant authorities, calls for the area to be granted special-interest status to allow the targeting of initiatives under both the Cohesion Fund and the existing Structural Funds (ERDF, EAGGF, FIFG and ESF), with the prime objective of decontaminating and restoring the damaged area, increasing environmental protection, and helping the local people affected by this disaster. The Commission should, in this exceptional case, allow the co-financing for the cost of the structural recovery measures to be charged directly to the mining company which caused the damage;

9. Considers that the Swedish Boliden-Åpirsa company should accept its responsibilities by compensating the victims and financing the clean-up of the areas affected by the disaster;

10. Calls on the Commission to arrange aid as a matter of urgency for the sectors affected economically and socially;

11. Considers that the Commission should collaborate with the relevant authorities in the investigation into the causes of this environmental disaster, and in ascertaining whether or not Community law on the disposal of toxic waste and the 'Seveso¨ directive on the prevention of risks and pollution control have been complied with;

12. Calls on the Commission to tighten up the current laws on the authorization of such installations, so as to ensure that they are located in safe, appropriate areas and are strictly prohibited in areas susceptible to serious risk affecting both the population and the ecosystem in general;

13. Notes that the proposed directive on Strategic Environmental Assessments, currently under consideration by Parliament, will hopefully help to prevent this kind of disaster in the future;

14. Calls on the Commission, when reviewing Community legislation on chemical products, to take waste issues into account in order to avoid similar spills;

15. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Spanish Government.