Oil Spill in Salina Cruz Affects Fishers
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Oil Spill in Salina Cruz Affects Fishers

Photo by:   PEMEX, Twitter
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Karin Dilge By Karin Dilge | Journalist and Industry Analyst - Fri, 05/06/2022 - 16:57

Salina Cruz’s fishers are demanding PEMEX to stop a crude oil spill and attend environmental damage in Oaxaca. They protested at the Antonio Dovalí Jaime Refinery and asked PEMEX to facilitate a discussion, as well as to provide an explanation regarding the recurring spills registered in March and April 2022.

The oil spill has caused economic and environmental damages to the communities living in the Salina Cruz municipality, leading habitants to organize a protest. Led by Municipal Representant Ernesto Pacheco Antonio, fishers, oyster farmers and restaurant owners affected by this year’s spills are requesting PEMEX to close operations for two drainage pipes that exit the refinery and discharge water and hydrocarbons waste in the La Ventosa bay.

Both pipelines have a 36-inch diameter and were built in 1975, before the Salina Cruz refinery started operations. Their last-known restoration took place in 2015. One 1kmlong pipeline is used to discharge rainwater, the other, 2km-long pipeline dumps oil residues into the ocean, allege the locals.

On April 15, the refinery’s tank TV-102 went up in flames, burning for over 24 hours and dispersing an estimated 33Mb of gasoline. Workers also worried that the floating roofs of Tanks 103 and 104, which have been damaged since 2019, could pose a risk. The refinery’s employees began demonstrating to improve what they found to be deteriorating working conditions. This protest marked the first time in 33 years that workers at the Oaxacan refinery have gone on strike, the last time occuring in 1989 following the arrest of then Union Leader, Joaquín Hernández Galicia, nicknamed ‘La Quina’.

The security issues harm President López Obrador’s mission to rescue the NOC, as investors and inhabitants of nearby communities are urging the state-owned company to increase environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts. Major stakeholders are aware that analysts deemed PEMEX’s emissions dangerous and employee insecurity to be “extreme” and argue that a solid ESG plan is essential to attract more private investment.

PEMEX ranks third among global oil corporations that pose major environmental risks, said Sylvana Beltrones Sánchez, Senator, PRI. Beltrones, a member of the government’s opposition, stressed the urgency to adapt the NOC’s internal structure to mitigate these perils, accompanied with stronger security and safety measures.

Furthermore, Scientists from The National Institute of Public Health of Mexico (INSP) estimate that in Mexico City’s metropolitan areas 12,000 people die every year due to severe lung damage caused by the pollution from the Tula Hidalgo refinery, a risk that Salina Cruz citizens may face as well.

To comply with these demands and increase PEMEX´s ESG efforts, the Senate approved a reform allowing the NOC to prioritize environmental measures. This initiative pressures PEMEX to carry out the exploration, extraction and production of its hydrocarbons, prioritizing environmental protection through climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, according to Congress members.

Photo by:   PEMEX, Twitter

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