Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Polluter Dos Pinos Pays To Keep Its Name Clean

May 2, 2008

Crying over spilt milk is one thing, but when it comes to spilling industrial wastewater into a nearby river, it could cost you some serious cash.

Dos Pinos, Costa Rica’s trademark dairy producer, agreed to pay $150,000 in damages this week for dumping milk by-products into the SiquiaresRiver in Ciruelas, Alajuela, northwest of San José.

The pollution was discovered in March 2007 after dead fish were found floating in the river, which was also producing foul smells, according to a statement from the Environmental Tribunal, the judicial arm of the Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE).

The Conservationist Association for the Rivers and Environment of Ciruelas de Alajuela (ACORACI) denounced the pollution, and a Health Ministry analysis taken three months later confirmed that Dos Pinos – which produces milk, ice cream, yogurt and other dairy products – was dumping grease and other contaminants into the waterway.

MINAE was originally demanding damages of more than $447,000.

However, Monday, the day of the trial, Dos Pinos and ACORACI came to an agreement under which the milk producer will pay $150,000, which the community will use to buy property and build a wastesorting center. Dos Pinos also agreed to pay the Ciruelas Integral Development Association, a community organization, the costs for monthly studies of the company’s wastewater.

The agreement allows Dos Pinos to avoid the case going to court and the potential of facing heavier MINAE sanctions and being condemned as an “environmental offender.”

According to Gabriela Hernández, spokeswoman for the tribunal, Dos Pinos has already cleaned up the river and carried out “repairs and modernization” of its waste treatment plant.

 

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