A new report from Ecologistas en Acción indicates that this carcinogenic compound has been detected in almost all watersheds.

An image of the Guadalquivir river.

Lindane, a carcinogenic pesticide The manufacture of which has been prohibited in the European Union since 2008 and which Spain produced until the early 1990s, is still present today in thirteen autonomous communities and in almost all Spanish hydrographic basins.

This was denounced this Wednesday by Ecologists in Action in the presentation of the report Lindane, present from a toxic legacy, in which the presence of the pesticide is verified in almost all river basins in 2017 and 2018, which presumably continue today, in the absence of actions and measures by the administrations.

The analysis indicates that on some occasions this presence exceeds the limits required by the environmental quality regulations for surface waters. Specifically, amounts higher than what is allowed in the Guadalquivir and Eastern Cantabrian basins (in the two years) and Duero and Segura (in 2018).

A carcinogenic compound

Hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH), known commercially as “lindane”, is an organochlorine substance, used as agricultural and sanitary pesticide and banned by the EU since 2008 due to its toxicity. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) notes that this compound is carcinogenic in humans. It is a toxic persistent, very slow to biodegrade, very volatile and bioaccumulative.

In its production, it generated between six and ten tons of waste for each ton of product discharged from different parts of Spain, without knowing their location, amount deposited and conditions in which they were made.

The organization has advanced that, Barakaldo and Erandi companiesor Chemical and Nexana, together with Transportes Bonbin and Industrias Químicas del Norte (Inquinosa) from Sabiñanigo (Huesca) are directly related to the uncontrolled spills of lindane.

Although it is no longer manufactured in Spain, it is still present in the environment, particularly in soils and rivers, as a consequence of its historical use as a pesticide and the maintenance of contaminated soils by the uncontrolled dumping of the residues of its manufacture.The NGO gives an example of the cases of Porriño (Orense), Sabinanigo (Aragon), the Lower Nervión-Ibaizabal and Gardelegi basin (Vitoria). Ecologists in Action denounces the persistence of this contamination in the new study that follows the 2017 NGO report Manufacture and use of lindane. Chronicle of a persistent and silent poisoning.

Regarding the communities, there is evidence of the HCH in 13 of them: Community of Madrid, Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Galicia, Andalusia, Extremadura, Valencian Community, Aragon, Catalonia, Navarra, Basque Country, Region of Murcia and Cantabria.

“Paradox and contradiction”

For the NGO, it warns of the “paradox and contradiction” that the European and Spanish regulations on water for human consumption allow HCH-lindane values ​​up to 2.5 times higher than those established for the environmental quality of surface waters.The report also includes the detection of high concentrations of HCH-lindane in the wood of the trees in the vicinity of contaminated soils. In this case, the samplings and analyzes were carried out directly by Ecologistas en Acción in 2019, in the vicinity of landfills in Huesca (Sabiñánigo) and Vizcaya (Enekuri and Jata).

The NGO insists on the need to modify the legislation and equalize limit values, and be “demanding” at least with the quality of water for human consumption, such as water for other uses (irrigation, bathing, animal consumption …).“The toxic legacy of lindane waste must be eradicated now. And for this you have to implement controlled and uncontrolled deposit detection measures and the rehabilitation and decontamination of soils and waters ”, stated the coordinator of the report, Javier Vázquez.

The report, with data from 2017 and 2018 -except for the last quarter-, is prepared with information from the Ministry for Ecological Transition (Miteco) and the Basque Water Agency (URA) and Javier Vázquez (coordinator), Koldo Hernández (responsible for chemical substances) and Carlos Alonso (legal area) participated.