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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Costa Rica Mining Collapse Causes Environmental Disaster

In Abangares, a mining water storage lagoon with chemicals such as mercury and cyanide was reported to have collapsed. This caused the stream that carries water to the Abangares River, Guanacaste.

Personnel from the Ministry of Health and the Judicial Investigation Organism (OIJ) visited the site for an inspection.

The incident caused the death of several species of fish and shrimp in the Santa Lucía and Abangares rivers, as confirmed by the director of Arenal Tempisque Conservation Areas, Alexánder León.

“One of the lagoons collapsed and affected another, so there was a large material spill on the Santa Lucia and Abangares rivers. There was significant contamination because there was a large amount of dead fish and shrimp. Yesterday (Friday), samples were taken for analysis,” he informed.

The collapsed lagoon is located at a local mining plant and is used to store and separate metal compounds. The rupture generated enormous mud that descended through a creek that flows into the Abangares River.

A resident, who has opposed the mining projects, told El País that neighbors had been affected by odors coming from the river that cause headaches and sore throats.

The specific causes of the event are not known. However, it is believed that the rains may have contributed to the incident.

“There is no certainty, but we do have to remember that, in the last few days, it was raining a lot, and perhaps the heavy rains or some other factor influenced one of the walls to collapse and cause all this material to be diverted into the river,” the staff explained.

Heriberto Cubero, Mayor of Abangares, mentioned that two investigations are still open because the lagoons do not have to have sediments of contaminating chemicals.

“One hypothesis indicates that it could be due to chemicals, and the second hypothesis suggests that mud was formed due to the number of sediments present, which caused the animals to lack oxygen to survive,” Cubero explained.

The Cantonal Union of Development Associations of Abangares (Uncada) indicated this was an absolute environmental disaster.

“The communities of Abangares Canton live today an environmental tragedy that affects us all; the municipal mining commission, the miners, and UNCADA are shocked by this situation. We informed MINAE that this is not a product of artisanal mining,” they said on their Facebook page.

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