Minor Oil Spill Reported in Puebla
This Tuesday afternoon, PEMEX successfully sealed off a faulty pipeline that had been leaking from the early hours of April 2, having been alerted by a local landowner. While the leak’s risk for the local population was relatively minor, it did threaten to damage subsoil, recalling environmental concerns regarding the NOC’s pipeline integrity.
Municipal Civil Protection personnel estimate that around 450m² of private woodland were contaminated because of the spill. Initial reports indicated the leak was caused by malicious tampering from thieves attempting to siphon-off oil. This would not be a first in the state of Puebla. In 2010, a pipeline explosion in San Martín Texmelucan de Labastida, largely blamed on the Zetas drug cartel, claimed the lives of 29 and left another 52 injured. However, a team of investigators from the Mexican Navy and the Ministry of Citizen Security visited the area affected by the spill and concluded that the leak was instead due to a crack in the pipeline.
In recent years, PEMEX has come under increasingly harsh criticism from environmental activists for its perceived negligence and willingness to flout rules and restrictions. This particular site in Puebla is no stranger to such leaks. In June 2021, the same ranch saw another oil leak when a sinkhole that served as part of the rainwater drainage system was polluted with fuel. Back then, the failure was attributed to a lack of maintenance. Ten months on, experts still question what PEMEX is doing to shore up safety measures across its oil pipeline network. This follows a condemnation by the international NGO Greenpeace, which accused PEMEX of “ecocide” in the wake of the July 2021 Ku-Maloob-Zaap undersea gas pipeline rupture, which saw the Bay of Campeche engulfed in flames. The dramatic “eye of fire” scenes also attracted the attention of climate campaigner Greta Thunberg, who voiced concerns over Twitter. At the time, PEMEX claimed that the accident was caused by a freak accident lightning strike and stated that no lives were lost. Yet, mere weeks later, at least five workers were killed and more injured as a result of an explosion on the E-Ku-A2 platform nearby.
Gustavo Ampugnani, Executive Director of Greenpeace México, claims such risks are part and parcel of fossil fuel extraction, making calls to adopt renewable energy models all the more pertinent. Greenpeace also cited maintenance issues owing to underfunding and reduced investment in PEMEX as a major contributing factor to the increased risk of such accidents going forwards.