Spanish Beach Sprayed With Bleach To Protect Against Covid-19

The beach (pre-bleaching) in Zahara de los Atunes in Cadiz, Spain. Quintanilla/Shutterstock

If you thought injecting disinfectant was a bad idea, how about spraying bleach on beaches? 

Environmentalists have been left dumbfounded after local authorities in a Spanish coastal resort doused a beach with bleach in an attempt to protect local kids from Covid-19, according to Spanish media.

A 1.2-kilometer (0.75-mile) stretch of sandy beach in the fishing village of Zahara de los Atunes in the Andalusian province of Cádiz was reportedly sprayed with thousands of liters of 2 percent bleach solution using tractors on Saturday, April 25. Local authorities claim it was done to protect children who were set to be allowed outside for the first time in six weeks after lockdown measures were eased.

The Andalusian regional government is now considering fining the local authority for its action.

“I recognize that it was a mistake, but it was done with the best of intentions,” said Agustín Conejo, a municipal official, according to Madrid-based newspaper El País.

While local officials have since apologized for the shortsighted move, environmentalists and locals remain concerned at the potential ecological damage caused by the disinfection. For one, the coastal area is a prominent nesting area of black-backed plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus), a shorebird protected by Spanish wildlife regulations. 

"It is a very sensitive area where the plover breeds every year," said Daniel Sánchez Román, delegate in Cádiz for Sustainable Development of the Board, according to El País.

“It is an environmental aberration," he added.

The screw-up also caught the attention of Greenpeace Spain, who tweeted, “Fumigating beaches with bleach in the middle of bird-breeding season or during the development of the invertebrate network that will support coastal fishing...  is not one of Trump’s ideas. It is happening in Zahara de los Atunes,” referencing President Trump’s recent suggestion that injecting disinfectant into the body could be used to treat Covid-19.

Spain is currently the second hardest-hit country in the world in regards to confirmed Covid-19 cases. According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, Spain currently has 236,899 reported cases of Covid-19 and has suffered 24,275 deaths. Spain raised a state of alarm on March 14, and soon instituted one of the world’s most stringent lockdowns. This week has seen the country slowly ease their lockdown measures, such as allowing children under 14 to go outside for an hour a day.

Zahara de los Atunes isn't the only place in the world that's taken bizarre and misguided step towards stopping the spread of Covid-19. Back in March, police in the UK tipped black dye into a lagoon in Derbyshire in an attempt to put people off visiting the picturesque waters, and the Swedish city of Lund is planning to dump a ton of chicken poop in its central park to deter revelers from celebrating a Swedish festival there. 

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