Costa Rica river fuel spill called 'eco-tragedy' : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Costa Rica river fuel spill called 'eco-tragedy'

Thursday, September 28, 2000

Costa Rica faces an "ecological tragedy" after 87,990 gallons of diesel fuel pumped by the state oil firm spilled into a river for a week before being noticed, an environmental group said Wednesday.

The Tarcoles River, where the spill occurred, is already the most contaminated river in Costa Rica, a Central American nation of 3.1 million people that prides itself on its environment and the eco-tourism its jungles, volcanoes and beaches have attracted.

"There is no doubt that this is an ecological tragedy," said a spokesman of the Central American Water Tribunal, an environmental group.

The state-owned firm, Costa Rican Petroleum Refinery, said the leak began a week ago and that by the time it was discovered, tens of thousands of gallons of diesel fuel had flowed into the Tarcoles. It said a pipe buried in the bank of the river had broken due to an apparent rockslide.

The Tarcoles river runs through some of Costa Rica's most fertile farmlands.

But it also carries much of the sewage from central Costa Rican cities and is highly contaminated with fecal matter, making its water unsuitable for irrigation or swimming.

Environment Minister Elizabeth Odio said she suspected the diesel leak was more the result of neglect than an accident

-- Martin Thompson (, September 29, 2000

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