Environmental, health and safety risk to the civil population bordering the Naval Station Rota in Cádiz

By Cristóbal Orellana González (from the Red Antimilitarista y Noviolenta de Andalucía)

In 2013, Ecologistas en Acción de Cádiz wrote an open letter to the central government titled “Environmental, health and safety risk to the civil population bordering the Naval Station Rota in Cádiz”. The letter outlined 19 different environmental concerns the group had about the base, which is a Spanish naval base fully funded by the USA on the south coast of Spain. The base houses US Navy and Marine Corps military personnel.

In their letter, the group requested either a detailed response to these questions or a meeting where this information could be provided, but to date, they have not received a response. The original report is available online: http://www.ecologistasenaccion.es/article26364.html

Some of the issues highlighted by the group were:In 2013, there was clear danger from an accident of a Galaxy cargo plane at the Naval Station Rota.The possibility of a nuclear accident in Rota (this possibility is recognized in a treaty between Spain and the United States).The Bahía de Cádiz community - around 700,000 people surrounding the base - and the Bahía de Cádiz authorities are totally unaware of any type of emergency and evacuation plan in the event of disaster, accident, or military attack on the Naval Station Rota.

  • There are inadequate evacuation routes planned for the population of Rota in the event of a serious emergency situation occurring at the Naval Station Rota.
  • Pollution from kerosene and other fuels: in 1997, a serious accident occurred resulting in the ship J.P. Bobo spilling 300,000 litres of diesel fuel onto the beaches around the military base. This could happen again.
  • The seawalls separating the military base from the villages of Rota and Puerto de Santa María damage the ecological balance of these beaches.
  • Cases of marine pollution in the area: dead fish have been seen around the Naval Station Rota.
  • There is no information about safeguards and prevention regarding the treatment of materials with asbestos in the base.
  • A report from the Ministry of Agriculture shows the largest problem of the naval air station is its internal use of pesticides, but the environmental repercussions that their use can have on the surrounding population are ignored.
  • Possible fires on naval units, in an area very close to a large population.
  • Noise pollution is a significant problem.
  • Pollutants and toxic products; corrective measures and provisions in case of an accident: although the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement covers this, it is unknown what type of pollutants and toxic products may be used in the base and therefore it is unknown what “Corrective measures and preventions in case of an accident” are in place.

The document presented by the ecologists to authorities ends with a question: “While this overly dangerous military installation - located in the heart of a large civilian settlement – remains can you consider drafting a Comprehensive Plan for Public and Environmental Safety for the Bay of Cádiz that deals with the scenarios we have laid out in this paper?”