Authorities in Spain Apologize After Spraying a Beach with Bleach in Attempt To Protect Children from Coronavirus

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The beach of Zahara de Los Atunes in Spain in pre-pandemic times. Photograph: Marcos Welsh/Getty Images.

Authorities in a Spanish coastal resort have apologized after spraying a beach with bleach in an attempt to protect children from coronavirus.

Zahara de Los Atunes, near Cadiz, used tractors to spray more than 2km (1.2 miles) of beach with a bleach solution a day before Spain allowed children out of lockdown for the first time since it began, BBC News reports. 

Environmentalists say the move caused “brutal damage” to the local ecosystem as the beachfront is a known breeding site for protected birds. 

Spain has been badly affected by the coronavirus, with 23,800 deaths, and recently announced a four-phase plan to lift its stringent lockdown measures. The nation aims to return to a “new normality,” by the end of June, according to BBC News.

María Dolores Iglesias, who heads an environmental volunteer group in the Cadiz region, told the BBC that she had visited the beach at Zahara de Los Atunes and has seen the damage for herself.

She said the bleach “killed everything on the ground, nothing is seen, not even insects.”

The beach and its dunes are protected breeding and nesting places for migratory birds. Ms. Iglesias said she had seen at least one nest with eggs destroyed by the tractors spraying bleach.

The Andalusian regional government is now considering fining the local authorities for their actions, El Pais newspaper reports.

The beach and dunes at Zahara de Los Atunes are breeding sites for protected birds. Photo by Getty Images.

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