The Guardia Civil, within the framework of Operation “RUBO”, has arrested and investigated 14 people and 3 commercial companies related to crimes against natural resources and the environment, in addition to document fraud and belonging to a criminal organisation.
A waste management company had been illegally managing hazardous waste since at least 2015 and another transport company acted as an intermediary and was in charge of transferring it to landfills. In addition, plastic waste that was not treated in accordance with current regulations was exported as raw material to Southeast Asia, when it should have been exported as waste after its decontamination.
After the first investigations carried out by the Environment and Urban Planning Unit of the State Attorney General’s Office and the UCOMA (Central Operational Unit for the Environment), the agents found that a company had been failing to comply with all the processes related to waste management for years, from the storage of containers containing dangerous substances outdoors, mixture of waste, unauthorised handling of waste with asbestos, hydrocarbons, industrial liquid waste, etc., to the falsification in the codes of waste.
The company collected more waste than it declared to the administration, with up to a difference of 115,632 tons of waste without any traceability in the study period, from 2016 to 2020. The plant was not prepared to manage these quantities and It accumulated products such as asbestos, sulfuric acid, etc. in large containers that lacked safety measures.
Much of this waste was transported between companies to end up in landfills without the required authorisations. Nearly 2,800 transfers between different points of the Spanish geography have been documented, resulting in more than 200,000 tons of waste without being properly treated, mixing metal, plastic, sludge, paint and even varnish waste.
As a result of the inspections carried out, the SEPRONA agents, the environmental branch of the Guardia Civil, verified the existence of continuous discharges to the sewerage network in values higher than the established limits. The measurements identified the existence of dangerous contaminants in the wastewater that was not properly treated, affecting the treatment capacity.
The high generation of waste constitutes a serious environmental problem in modern societies, hence the need for strict regulations that ensure and guarantee proper recycling management.
The incorrect management of much of the waste discovered in this operation, which contained a significant amount of pollutants and hazardous waste, had to be managed properly, since the heavy metals that are produced from its poor management can reach the food chain, through rivers and coastal areas.
The complexity and illegality of Operation RUBO make it the largest operation carried out in recent years in Spain in terms of investigated matter.
The operation has had the collaboration of EUROPOL in the analysis of the documentation and possible connections with countries of the European Union, of the General Subdirectorate of Waste and Circular Economy of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, of the National Institute of Toxicology and Forensic Sciences, Generalitat Valencia, as well as the Public Entity for Wastewater Sanitation of Valencia and the GRAMASER Company as Laboratory of Omniun Ibérica.
The operation has been directed by the Investigating Court number 4 of Massamagrell (Valencia).