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”.
“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.
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.