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State official offers the upside of a pig plant in Cenote Zone

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Protests will continue Saturday against a pig farm in the Cenote Zone. Photo: La Jornada Maya

The planned pig farm in the cenote-rich village of Homún will not be allowed to operate without its own wastewater treatment plant, said Eduardo Adolfo Batllori Sampedro, secretary of Urban Development and Environment.

The state official met with reporters to assure the public about the controversial farm, approved last year by state officials. Its construction is 70 percent complete, he said.

Batllori Sampedro also denied accusations of corruption, saying that opponents have spread misinformation in the media. The size of the farm has also been exaggerated, containing 23,300 pigs and not the 50,000 that was reported.

Residents are worried that a large farm would endanger underground water systems and pollute their numerous cenotes. Many of the region’s caverns are tourist attractions and an important part of the local economy, in addition being tied to their heritage and identity.

And the land sits over the Geo-hydrological Reserve of the Cenotes Ring.

He told reporters that the state approved the farm using objective standards.

“There will always be an impact like all human activity, but what we want is to minimize it. If it complies with the official regulations, it will start. We can not invent standards,” he said. “Environmental policy documents are made in consultation with experts.”

He acknowledged that the general population was not consulted on the decision to build the pig farm.

The farm’s developers began an administrative process in January 2017, and the state agency subsequently conducted a geo-hydrological study after which it approved the project under a series of requirements that have not been met to date, and for which they have up to two years to comply.

“Seduma (the state agency) required the developer to develop a more elaborate wastewater treatment system, considering that the proposed system was insufficient due to the size of the farm,” said Batllori Sampedro.

Protestors will continue in Mérida, gathering 4 p.m. Saturday at the Monumento a la Patria to  “Save the Cenotes de Homún.”

But Batllori Sampedro downplayed the economic impact of tourism in the Cenote Zone.

“Tourist activity is not a panacea,” he said. “In places like Cancun it has provoked sexual tourism, family disintegration and drug addiction. These are also social impacts that have not been measured.”

Yucatán is fourth nationally in pork production,  with more than 460 farms throughout the state. In 2009, around 3.4 square meters of swine wastewater was generated, of which 63 percent received some treatment and 37 percent receive no treatment, according to La Jornada Maya.

That same year, pork production generated more than 6,000 direct rural jobs.

The planned project would be technologically advanced compared to existing farms, said Batllori Sampedro.

“No farm in Yucatan currently has a plant of this type, so it will set the standard to follow in the future in terms of water and swine farms. In addition, 53 percent of the total area of ​​the project is destined as a conservation area, preventing future growth,” he told reporters.

Source: La Jornada Maya

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