A Spanish official has apologized after spraying a beach with bleach, hoping it would protect children from catching the coronavirus.
Tractors sprayed the chemical, typically used to disinfect, on more than two kilometres’ worth of beach area in Zahara de los Atunes last week, the BBC reports, just one day before Spanish children were released from lockdown.
“I admit that it was a mistake,” local official Agustin Conejo said, per the BBC. “It was done with the best intention.”
Environmentalists have been particularly incensed by the move.
“It’s totally absurd,” Maria Dolores Iglesias Benitez, a local environmentalist, told the Guardian. “The beach is a living ecosystem, and when you spray it down with bleach, you’re killing everything you come across.”
Aside from the bleach, Iglesias Benitez, who works with the Asociacion Voluntarios Ambientales Trafalgar, fears the tractors crushed the eggs of various native and migratory species.
“If only they could understand the damage they have done to the ecosystem.”
Before the fumigating, wildlife had been thriving on the beach.
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“The beach has its own way of cleaning itself,” Iglesias Benitez told Spanish media, per the BBC. “It was not necessary.”
Spain is the second-hardest-hit country in the world, as of Thursday morning, with more than 230,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.