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Government sprays Spanish beach with BLEACH to protect from COVID-19 

"Velda Hutchings" (2020-05-19)

Government officials in a small coastal town in Spain have sprayed down a local beach with a diluted bleach solution in the hopes of protecting residents from COVID-19.

The decision was made by Agustín Conejo, a local official in Zahara de los Atunes, in the southern province of Cádiz, whose residents will begin emerging from six weeks of COVID-19 lockdown over the next month.

But the decision has been slammed by environmental groups who say it will kill invertibrates, affect sea birds' mating season and affect fishing. 

Conejo said the decision to spray bleach was made to protect minors and children who would be returning to the beach, but in retrospect, acknowledges the decision was a bad move.

The local government in the Spanish town of  Zahara de los Atunes sprayed the beach with bleach to protect locals from COVID-19 as they begin to emerge from lockdowns, a decision that was widely criticized

'I admit that it was a mistake, it was done with the best intention,' he told the BBC.

The spraying was done with a number of tractors and small trucks equipped with long fumigation misters that released the diluted bleach solution across the beach and nearby dunes.





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María Dolores Iglesias, who heads an environmental volunteer group in the Cadiz region, says she saw these trucks run over at least one egg filled nest from the many species of migratory birds that use the dunes for mating. 

'They have devastated the dune spaces and gone against all the rules,' Iglesias said.

'It has been an aberration what they have done, also taking into account that the virus lives in people not on the beach. It is crazy.'

Residents of Zahara de los Atunes have been on lockdown for six weeks during the Covid-19 South Africa pandemic, and the local government wanted to prepare the beaches for the public as they began loosening restrictions on movement

The Spanish chapter of Greenpeace warned the move would not only disrupt the mating season for local birds but disrupt the ecosystem for invertebrates that help support the local fishing ecosystem as the bleach leeches out into the sea.

'[This] is not one of Trump's ideas,' the group posted on Twitter in shock. 'It is happening in Zahara de los Atunes.'

Provincial officials also criticized the decision to spray and say they're considering fining the city for the move, but no final decisions have been made.

Local activist María Dolores Iglesias described the decision as absurd. 'The beach is a living ecosystem. And when you spray it down with bleach, you're killing everything you come across,' she said

According to Iglesias, bleach sprays can be useful for city streets and other urban spaces, but said it would have a genuinely destructive effect on the beach landscape, killing off even the insects.

'It's totally absurd,' Iglesias Benítez said.

'The beach is a living ecosystem. And when you spray it down with bleach, you're killing everything you come across.'