Standard Fruit Company Settles Fish Kill Lawsuit

July 23, 2004

THE administrative EnvironmentalTribunal of the Ministry of Environmentand Energy (MINAE) last week reached asettlement with the U.S. firm StandardFruit Company regarding a massive fishkill in the Pacuare river, in the Caribbeanprovince of Limón.In a conciliation agreement signed lastweek between the transnational companyand MINAE – approved by the tribunal –representatives of the company agreed topay $115,000 to repopulate the Pacuarewith various species of fish, La Naciónreported.The settlement also established thatStandard Fruit must initiate the constructionof a new airport, valued at $148,000,to prevent future ecological disastersrelated to the use of pesticides at thecompany’s banana plantations.Literally countless fish died,allegedly as a result of an accidentat the company’s airport in Batán deLimón, when a large amount of thepesticide Bravo 500 spilled from astorage tank into the river in January2003.Representatives of the RegionalEnvironmental Council of Limón said thesettlement is demonstrative of a timidgovernment, wary of chasing the fruitcompany out of the country, La Naciónreported.Still, it may have set a precedent.“This is the first time anybody hashad to pay a dime to try to figure out howto mitigate this,” said Emily Yozell, anattorney working for Justice for Nature, anon-governmental organization that hasfought legal battles on behalf of communityresidents affected by fish kills inthe region.

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