A Spanish municipal official has come under fire by environmentalists after spraying a beach with diluted bleach in a misguided attempt to protect people from becoming infected with the coronavirus, according to a report.
Agustín Conejo last week sent tractors equipped with sprayers along part of a beach in the southern village of Zahara de los Atunes in preparation for children after six weeks under lockdown, the Newzandar News reported.
“I recognize it was an error,” Conejo told local broadcaster Canal Sur, the UK news outlet reported. “But it was done with the best of intentions.”
More than 23,800 deaths have been reported in the hard-hit country, which this week loosened lockdown measures to allow kids under age 14 daily outings of up to an hour.
Environmentalists slammed the decision to disinfect the beach with bleach.
“It’s totally absurd. The beach is a living ecosystem. And when you spray it down with bleach, you’re killing everything you come across,” María Dolores Iglesias Benítez told the news outlet.
Iglesias Benítez heads a group that has been active in protecting the area, which serves as a nesting ground for birds whose eggs she had hoped would flourish during the absence of people.
“Now I’m worried that the tractors crushed the eggs,” she said.
Her group, which lodged complaints with local authorities, attracted the attention of Greenpeace Spain.
“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 President] Trump’s ideas. It is happening in Zahara de los Atunes,” Greenpeace Spain wrote on Twitter.
The swipe at Trump referred to his comments at a White House brief last week in which he questioned whether people infected with the coronavirus could be “injected” with disinfectants, sparking a wave of criticism and negative press.
He later claimed he “was asking a question sarcastically to reporters.”