Acerinox condemned to pay 520 million for radioactive contamination
The company did not detect a cesium-137 escape
Efe / Innocent Romaguera | Madrid / Algeciras

The Court of First Instance number 39 of Madrid has condemned the Acerinox company, of the Districts (Cadiz), to the payment to the public company Egmasa of an indemnification of 520 million pesetas by the damages caused by the radioactive contamination of its facilities. The origin of the incident, happened in June of 1998, was a radioactive cesium-137 source that was in the metallic scrap iron that is based on the furnace of Acerinox and that was not detected by the radiological systems.  This contaminated material was sent soon to the plant of inertizacio'n of Egmasa.

In the sentence, always according to legal sources, one takes shelter that Acerinox acted with one ' serious lack of diligence to delay in almost two weeks the notification to Egmasa of the existence of nuclear contamination in the factory of the Barrios'.  The failure assures that such delay has supposed ' important extensio'n' of the radioactive contamination and ' it increased of the cost of the workings of cleaning and decontamination to make in the plants of inertizacio'n of Woods of the Border (Huelva).

Next to the one of Woods, the radioactive scrap iron traveled to the deprived plant of the Presur, in Fregenal of the Mountain range (Badajoz), that also was contaminated.  ' Acerinox must have communicated to Egmasa the problem to the detected being so that it made the measures of inspection and control;  nevertheless the demanded part does not act until day 11 prevails to him on the part of the Nuclear Security Council of June, which has supposed the extension of the risk and increase of the contamination and therefore of the damages and damages of the part demandante', it adds.

Egmasa maintains with Acerinox a contractual relation by which the Andalusian public company is in charge to clean to the toxic industrial remainders and dangers, but nonradioactive and nuclear, and in concrete for the collection of the dust that produces the furnaces of this society in the Districts, that later treats and manages in its plant of inertizacio'n of Woods.

In the indemnification all the costs are included which Egmasa has incurred across the cleaning of the Wood plant plus the amount that this company will have to pay to Enresa (Company Nacional de Residuos Radiativos) by the management of the remainders in the Cabril, where is located the storage of radioactive remainders of loss and average intensity.  The sentence considers that Acerinox has incurred 'negligencia' reason why the sentence to the payment of the costs of the judicial procedure.

Sources of the iron and steel company assured yesterday that ' the quantity that pays attention to the sentence of the Court of First Instance and Instruction number 39 of Madrid was the amount demanded by Egmasa for indemnification by the cleaning that it had to make in his facilities to the stored salary remainders coming from the escape radiactivo'.  ' Since the cesium-137 flight took place until it was detected the incident several transports of ash extractions loaded until the facilities of the company onubense' were carried out, it indicated Acerinox.

Same sources, that emphasized that ' the sentence was not by damage to the people or medioambiente', assured that they will present/display a resource with the intention of reducing the indeminizacio'n.

' Slowness of justicia'

Marti'n Horseman, spokesman of Agaden, the ecological group that past 5 of June, World-wide Day of Environment, demanded before the doors of the factory barreña the transfer of the radioactive remainders that still are inside the factory, declared:  ' justice is quite slow, since these facts took place three years ago and in addition, it is clear that the sanction is not ejemplarizante, because the denunciation to the penal scope would be due to have transferred and to have seated in the bench to some of the directors of Acerinox, because 520 million pesetas for this company are not nada'.