Since last week, the town of Portman has been news again. At last, it seems that the work of regeneration of its bay has begun.
Let's do some history. These mountains were, since Romans times (Century I), mining zone, and already then, they extracted silver from here.
So this village, and La Union town (a few kilometers from here) have always been a mining area.
Since 1957, the French company Peñarroya, took charge of the extraction of minerals (Cadmium, Lead and Silver) from this area. The wastes generated by the washing of the minerals (using copper sulfate, sodium cyanide, zinc sulfate, sulfuric acid, among others) were initially deposited on the sides of the mountain slopes but, in order to reduce costs, they decided to throw them to the Sea. As the years went by, the discharge into the Mediterranean Sea was increasing, reaching 8000 tonnes of waste a day.
The government of dictator Franco time, and the early years of democracy, allowed this environmental atrocity, relying on maintaining jobs.
In 1986 a spectacular action of the international ecological association Greenpeace takes place, chaining some of its members to the pipes of discharge.
In 1987, Peñarroya transferred the company to Portman Golf, and in March 1990, the dumping to the sea was definitively closed.
It is considered the biggest environmental disaster of heavy metals in the Mediterranean.
In the image below, you can see the immense amount of debris that filled the bay of Portman, a bay about 8 meters deep, in which large boats were docked.
I have pointed out the place in which was the old port of the nautical club of Portman. (click on the image to see details).
Here you can see Spanish videos about this disaster: 1 and 2.