Last modified: 2015-11-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: aznalcóllar |
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Flag of Aznalcóllar - Image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 24 May 2014
The municipality of Aznalcóllar (6,144 inhabitants in 2014; 19,896 ha) is located 40 km north-west of Seville.
Aznalcóllar is located in the Andalusian mining basin. The Los Frailes pyrites mine was the cause of one of the most serious ecological disasters ever experienced by Spain, known as the Aznalcóllar disaster.
On 25 April 1998, the dam of the sedimentation lake of the mine collapsed, releasing 4.5 million cubic meters of toxic material (3.6 million cubic meters of water and 0.9 million cubic meter of sludge) into rivers Agrio and Guadiamar, two main tributaries of Guadalquivir. The two rivers and the neighbouring plains, a main agricultural zone, were polluted up to 50 km downstream the mine. The area of contaminated soils was evaluated at 4,600 ha. The core zone of the Coto de Doñana Natural Park, made of the marshy estuary of Guadalquivir, was, fortunately, not contaminated, but its outer zone was. The toxic flood eventually reached the Guadalquivir, and, marginally, the Atlantic Ocean, in Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
The biggest remediation operation ever set up in Europe was organized, allowing the recovery of 90% of the spoiled soils in a very short period of time. The status of the originally contaminated soils has been monitored since the disaster by scientists from the Universities of Granada and Almería. Their most recent report (F.J. Martín Peinado, A. Romero-Freire, I. García Fernández, M. Sierra Aragón, I. Ortiz-Bernad, M. Simón Torres. 2015. Long-term contamination in a recovered area affected by a mining spill. Science of the Total Environment 514:219-223) confirms the efficiency of the remediation. The authors, however, insist on the spots that remain unremediated (7% of the total area); this bare soils are still a major source of pollution "from which pollutants are scattered through the solid and liquid phases of runoff water". Accordingly, remediation operations in Mediterranean areas should be exhaustive rather than swift.
The Aznalcóllar disaster is known to law specialists as the Boliden case, named for Boliden AB, the Swedish company that operated the mine. The penal lawsuit ended with the acquittal of the 21 indicted technicians, since no evidence of negligence had been presented. Boliden AB argued that the disaster had been caused by an unexpected landslide, which was denied by environmentalist associations questioning the size and site of the dam.
In a civil lawsuit, the Government of Andalusia required Boliden to refund it for the cost of the remediation operation (89 million euros). In 2002, the Court of Seville recognized its incompetence regarding the case; the sentence was confirmed in 2003 by the Provincial Court of Seville and in 2007 by the Superior Court of Justice. The Government of Andalusia appealed at the Supreme Court of Spain, which invalidated in 2012 the previous sentences and ordered the next year the Court of Seville to re-examine the case. In 2013, the very same judge who had turned down the plaintiff 11 years ago recognized the competence of the Court and initiated the procedure of refunding for the remediation of 4,634 ha.
[El Pais, 27 April 2013]
Closed after the ecological disaster, the Aznalcóllar mine might soon be re-activated. The Government of Andalusia launched an international bid in January 2014, which was won by the Minorbis-Grupo México consortium. Political opponents and environmentalists soon recalled the Buenavista del Cobre disaster, when 40,000 cubic m of sulphuric acid were released into river Sonora (Mexico). The concession of the mine was appealed at the court, revealing suspicion of corrupt practices, which led to the dismissal of the Director General of Industry, Energy and Mines of the Government of Andalusia.
[El Pais, Aznalcóllar tagged articles]
Ivan Sache, 24 May 2014
The flag of Aznalcóllar (photo, photo), submitted on 8 March 2010 by the Municipal Council to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 19 March 2010 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 7 April 2010 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 66, p. 66 (text).
The flag is described as follows:
Flag: One third longer than wide, divided into three horizontal equal parts, the upper, green, the central, yellow, and the lower, blue.
Green is the colour of a branch of olive.
Yellow is an allegory of the nature of the colonists.
Blue, the colour of the field of the municipal coat of arms, is a symbol of nobility.
Juan José Antequera Luengo. (Heráldica oficial de la provincia de Sevilla) reports that the flag was already in use, in proportions 11:18; in 1990.
The coat of arms of Aznalcóllar is prescribed by Royal Decree No. 334, adopted on 15 October 1982 and published on 23 November 1982 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 281, p. 32,162 (text). This was confirmed by a Decree adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 20 December 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 246, pp. 28,986-29,002 (text).
The "rehabilitated" coat of arms, validated by the Royal Academy of History, is described as follows:
Coat of arms: Azure a castle or port and windows sable a Moor issuant from the crenels holding dexter a branch of olive vert on a base vert surrounded dexter by a deer sable and sinister by a holly oak vert. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.
The memoir supporting the "rehabilitation" of the arms, redacted by Joaquín González Moreno, was approved in March 1982 by the Municipal Council. The seal used in 1827 features a tree, replaced in 1838 by a castle, a holly oak and a deer. A coat of arms was derived in the beginning of the 20th century, as published in 1922 in the Enciclopedia Universal Ilustrada. The castle was reduced to a tower. The juxtaposition of the stag proper and the holly oak vert on the field azure make them hardly distinguishable. This is also true for the Moor, represented proper and clad argent, sometimes with a beard and an eye-band gules or argent.
The branch of olive symbolizes "the surrender of the place during the Christian reconquest". According to a tradition reported by Julio González, "all fortresses surrender after the seizure of Seville". Other sources however, report a violent fighting and the partial destruction of the fortress. No Muslim population was recorded after the conquest, which indicate that they either died or left, as confirmed by the Arab chronicles. The stag and the holly oak evoke the cynegetic and forest resources.
The symbolism of the arms was already explained in 1876 as representing "a mountain village surrounded by trees, where game thrive and which contains Moriscos fortresses and towers." [Juan José Antequera Luengo. Heráldica oficial de la provincia de Sevilla].
The Royal Academy of History validated the "rehabilitated" arms, recognizing that they had been used for at least one century, but "with unacceptable heraldic errors".
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia 1983, 180, 2: 410]
Ivan Sache & Klaus-Michael Schneider, 24 May 2014