Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico - Mexico's environmental agency, PROFEPA, reports that over the weekend approximately 150 cubic meters of oil was pumped from the wreck of the Mexican bulk carrier Los Llanitos, which ran aground on October 23 near Punta Graham in the town of Barra de Navidad during Hurricane Patricia.
The ship sustained "cracks in sensitive areas" that caused fuel to spill into the sea, Profepa said in a statement released on October 26.
Constant monitoring of the vessel and the environment is ongoing, and PROFEPA reported that there was a minor spill of hydrocarbons when Los Llanitos ran aground, but it dissipated after a few days.
At this point, Enrique Godínez Domínguez, a researcher at the University of Guadalajara, says the main concern is an uncontrolled spill of a light mineral oil and of a highly toxic compound of polyethylene glycol and antifreeze-based liquids that was not detected until over a week after the ship's grounding.
According to Godínez Domínguez, this toxic spill could adversely impact a 10-hectare area where Barra de Navidad and Melaque fishing fleets operate.
"The most important point in the environmental area on this coast is without a doubt protecting Barra de Navidad Lagoon, the region's most important ecosystem," Profepa federal environmental protection agency chief Guillermo Haro said.
A thorough assessment of the magnitude of the damage is yet to be completed, and it will take a long time before the consequences to the environment and the local fishing industry are fully realized.
Meanwhile, plans to turn the wreck into an artificial reef have been confirmed by Jalisco Environment Secretary Magdalena Ruiz Mejía.Source: Milenio.com