Officials Plan to Sue Company for Moín Fire

January 12, 2007

Environment and Energy Minister Roberto Dobles announced Jan. 5 that the Costa Rican government plans to sue chemical company Químicos Holanda Costa Rica S.A. for damage caused by a massive chemical fire at the company’s chemical storage facility in the Caribbean port of Moín Dec. 13, 2006.

The fire, which erupted at a facility where solvents and caustic soda were stored, left two dead and 20,000 people temporarily without water (TT, Dec. 15, 2006).

Dobles told the daily Al Día the government will sue Químicos Holanda for environmental damage and for the at least ¢250 million ($485,436) the state has spent so far to deal with the emergency.

Experts from the University of Costa Rica and Universidad Nacional are carrying out studies to evaluate the impact on water, soil and the atmosphere caused by the explosion, which produced stories-high flames that burned for 11 hours.

Their findings will be used to “take appropriate actions” against the company, Dobles said.

Studies of the possible contamination of an important spring – which was less than 75 meters from where the factory was built, supplied 20,000 limonenses with water and is now quarantined – will conclude Jan. 19, when the National Water and Sewer Institute (AyA) will decide whether the spring is useable, according to a statement from AyA.

Presidency Minister Rodrigo Arias last week reported that water had been restored to all but 2,000 residents of the Caribbean province of Limón and that surface waters and ecosystems near the site of the accident were “returning to normal” (TT, Jan. 5).

 

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