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Dead fish show impact of 'ecological disaster' from chemical plant fire

Investigations launched after thousands of liters of dissolvent pollute Besòs river following Wednesday's blaze in Montornès del Vallès



12 December 2019 11:52 AM


ACN | Barcelona

Ecologists were counting the cost on Thursday morning of the fire the day before at a chemical plant in Montornès del Vallès, which has caused the deaths of a so-far undetermined number of fish in the nearby Besòs river.

Among the species of fish found dead in the river on Thursday morning were carps, barbels and eels, after thousands of liters of dissolvent from the plant leaked into the river, along with waste water that was used to put the fire out.

The full extent of the environmental damage to the river is still unknown, but the Catalan water agency, the ACA, described the impact as "very high," and the public prosecutor announced an investigation into the level of pollution.

The Catalan police are also investigating the incident at the industrial recycling plant belonging to the Ditecsa company, which involved a group of eight chemical tanks containing 22,000 liters of dissolvent, and another two with over 35,000 liters.

Barcelona mayor calls for "urgent" action

On Thursday morning, Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau, described the impact of the fire on the Besós river as an "ecological disaster," and on social media she called for "urgent" action to counter the environmental damage as well as demanding an investigation.

In the meantime, the ACA has reassured local residents that there is no risk of using tap water, which is sourced elsewhere, but the agency did warn people not to use water drawn directly from the river or from nearby wells.

Some 22 teams of firefighters battled the blaze in the Vallès Oriental area all day on Wednesday, with the authorities asking local residents in four nearby towns to stay indoors until the fire was brought under control in the evening. 


  • Image of a chemical plant blaze in Montornès del Vallès, north of Barcelona, on December 12, 2019 (by Eduard Batlles)

  • Image of a chemical plant blaze in Montornès del Vallès, north of Barcelona, on December 12, 2019 (by Eduard Batlles)