The illegal tapping of a Pemex oil pipeline in the northern state of Nuevo León caused an oil spill in August 2014 that contaminated a 6.5-kilometer-long stretch of the San Juan River.
According to Víctor Cabrera, state delegate for the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa), about 23 kilometers of channels (mostly irrigation channels) have been affected in total. Profepa advised residents to avoid using water from the places affected and not to consume local fish.
The illegal connection to the Madero-Cadereyta pipeline was first detected on 16 August 2014, and has been attributed to the criminal activities of organized crime. It allowed some 4000 barrels of crude oil to spill into the San Juan River.
The spill affected the agricultural communities of Mexiquito, La Fragua, Soledad Herrera, Santa Isabel, Hacienda Dolores, La Concepción and San Juan, home to approximately 6000 people.
The Nuevo León state governor Rodrigo Medina told reporters that an analysis carried out by water and drainage authorities and the National Water Commission (Conagua) had shown that the local aquifers had not been contaminated. The oil spill did not reach El Cuchillo Dam, located some 70 kilometers downstream from the spill, which is one of three main reservoirs supplying potable water to the Monterrey metropolitan area.
More than 500 workers from Pemex and other organizations have been employed to clean up the spill. Within two weeks, 90% of the oil spilled had been recovered and removed, according to a Pemex report. Officials expect the clean-up work on the river banks and in the irrigation ditches to take another two months to complete.
- Mexico’s Pemex: the government cash cow that environmentalists love to hate
- Is the BP Deepwater Horizon accident the biggest Gulf of Mexico oil spill in history?
- Mexico’s Pemex is one of the most competitive oil firms in the world
- Unusual hazard: gasoline pours out of storm drains in Poza Rica, Veracruz (Nov 2011)
- Examples of high risk settlements located near Pemex pipelines