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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Oil residue shows up on beaches but Pemex denies responsibility

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Volunteers are doing their best to clean up the mess, but Pemex continues to deny the oil on Campeche’s beaches has anything to do with them. Photo: Wikimedia Foundation

Mexico’s state-owned oil company Pemex is claiming that crude oil residues showing up on Campeche’s beaches are natural phenomena.

This is despite several recent accidents and oil spills involving Pemex’s offshore oil rigs and pipelines. 

For instance, last July a faulty duct released and ignited highly combustible hydrocarbons into the water creating what workers described as “an eye of fire”.

The extent of the environmental damage caused by last summer’s oil rig accident is unknown but has been consistently downplayed by Pemex. Photo: Courtesy

“Explosions at oil rigs, crude from pipelines burst into flames and now oil on the beaches, you don’t have to be a genius to put two and two together now do you?” said on Facebook Ciudad del Carmen resident, Juan Chable.

The patches of crude oil have been detected on beaches across the state of Campeche’s coast but seem to be concentrated around Sabancuy, Seybaplaya, and Isla del Carmen.

Earlier: A leak in a Tabasco Pemex oil pipeline causes disastrous fire

All three of these areas are on the coast and face the Gulf of Mexico where Pemex has heavily extracted crude oil for decades.

Volunteers have already begun to attempt to clean up the mess, but because of the sticky and viscous nature of oil residues, the task is not easy.

“People are taking action and making their frustrations heard on social media, but environmental organizations must take action to ensure that society is not silence and that Pemex is made fully responsible,” said Jahiro Herrera Dorantes, secretary of the environmental organization Desarollo y Medio Ambiente. 

There are also concerns that the damage may not be limited to beaches, as it is likely that an unknown amount of crude oil has sunk to the ocean floor, posing a great risk to the marine ecosystem. 

For its part, Pemex remains largely silent on the issue and insists that it is not to blame, but has offered to send a handful of workers to help clean up some of the mess. 

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