Merida, Yucatan — The giant flour mill has loomed over the neighborhood north of La Plancha for years. It was never much to look at, but it didn’t bother many people either.
That changed about 10 months ago with the harinera ramped up production, and a constant whooshing machine noise could be heard for blocks around. A roar of engines sometimes reaches a crescendo, then dies down. At night, it often gets worse, and more eerie.
The plant, owned by Grupo CMG, short for Comercializadora Mayorista del Golfo, through its Harinas del Sureste subsidiary, is at Calle 41, between 50 and 52. It’s on the outskirts of the Centro, and near at least one school and hundreds of private homes that pre-date the factory.
Neighbors, already under siege by nightclubs that still blast early-morning music with impunity, have implored the company and municipal authorities to solve the matter but say they have not heard any response.
Genoveva de la Peña Chávez, who has lived on Calle 54 at 43 for 14 years, reported that last year she and her family began to perceive a constant buzz. At first they were not worried, but it didn’t take long for them to realize they had a problem on their hands.
“It’s like being next to an airplane engine: it never stops, sometimes it gets sharper,” she told La Jornada Maya.
María Paz Ojeda Pesquera, who recently moved to the same street, stressed that the sound is “disturbing” and has deprived her of sleep. According to De la Peña Chávez, other inhabitants also have difficulty sleeping and some even suspect that it is causing them hearing problems.
De la Peña Chávez has communicated with the company, which promised to review the incident. Neighbors, accompanied by attorney Ricardo Themann, also went to the city of Merida. They were told that an environmental inspector named José Estrella, would go to the company building to review the area.
Both Ojeda Pesquera and De la Peña Chávez indicated that more and more residents of calles 50, 52 and 54 in the Centro have expressed their concern about the situation and hope that the municipal or state authorities will take action on the matter.
City Council Secretary of Citizen Participation Julio Sauma Castillo admitted not being familiar with the incident, but assured that a report was filed with Ayuntatel, the city’s complaint center.
He stressed that the time frame for following up on complaints depends on staffing levels in his office.
The municipal official also said that long-pending environmental protection regulations will be more effective in combating noise pollution.
La Jornada Maya contacted the flour plant, but employees in both the marketing and legal departments said they were unaware of the matter and could not comment.
A Diario de Yucatan story on Harinas del Sureste, published in December 2017, stated that the company was on track to double production and increase exports to Central America.
Full disclosure: YEL’s offices are also within earshot of the flour plant.