24 July 2008


April 22, 2008 - EARTH DAY!!!

The next stop on my journey through Spain was Rio Tinto, home to one of the world’s oldest environmental injuries…

I arrived with the TVE crew, who had been with me as I visited several sites in succession… at every stop, they were always good at herding me back to the van, so we could make a quick getaway. We ended the day at the FerroCarril Mine, and its amazing mine train (to which I would return). In the USA, we only see these things through a fence. Here was a rusting old mining train, abandoned in its tracks, right there in the open for people to explore… locomotives of all ages, boxcars, hoists, chains, gears galore, rusty nails, and hydraulic switches of all description. Of course, the later the hour, the more romantic the light, “hora de bruja,” as the Spanish call it.

Having decided to use the TVE crew’s pilot meant a long trek back to Jerez (more later on that town), and a very early rising to make it back to the small airfield from which we flew. But, first a quick meal of Japanese food in Sevilla (what a world). The crew had to fly out early for the next gig in Barcelona, so we had to do a short flight with Curro in order to get the footage they needed (I can stay up all day when shooting these projects). And, off on another mission… first stop, a vision of the future: two of the world’s newest and largest solar facilities (one built on an abandoned mine). One is photo voltaic, the other photo thermal.

A tremendous garbage dump looms next, where the garbage from Sevilla, Portugal, and Huelva come to poison the children of the future. Suddenly before us are the mines; first in view is Aznalcollar, from which a leak in 1998 sent 7 million cubic meters of toxic waste into the Guadalquivir River. The Guadalquivir feeds into Donana National Park - one of Europe's largest nature preserves, home to 5 threatened species, and winter home to over 500,000 migratory birds.

Rio Tinto is even more fascinating from the air, and as always, there are so many things never seen on the ground. The colors, machinery, and depth are breathtaking. We fly around and around. At one point, my polarizing filter falls off into the swirling waste below. I contemplate this addition to this tabloid of the history of industry….

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