From: Associated Press
Published January 7, 2005 12:00 AM

Head of Mexican Oil Monopoly Apologizes for Oil Spill

MEXICO CITY — The director of state-run oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos on Thursday appologized for an oil spil last week that unleashed crude oil into a river feeding the Gulf of Mexico and promised the company would compensate residents whose homes and livlihoods were harmed.


Traveling in the port city of Coatzacoalcos, just north of where the Dec. 23 spill took place, Luis Ramirez Corzo said the oil concern known as Pemex had a duty to pay the more than 250 local fishermen and the owners of 200 homes hit hardest.


"Today I renew Pemex's promise to take care of all those who were harmed," he said.


The oil spilled from a ruptured pipeline into the Coatzacoalcos River following an explosion at a pumping station near Santiago Tuxtla, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) east-southeast of Mexico City. The blast caused a burst of high pressure that ruptured the oil line 70 miles (110 kilometers) away in Nanchital, near the city of Coatzacoalcos.


Federal environmental investigatiors said Wednesday that almost no wildlife was killed in the spill, which affected a river and coastline besieged for decades by industrial pollution from nearby oil and petrochemical operations.


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Regulators estimate that 95 percent of the 5,000 barrels spilled had been recuperated as of earlier this week, but that oil-soaked earth and vegetation remained.


Damages to mangrove swamps near the spill site was limited, officials said.


Greenpeace Mexico has reported more extensive damage to flora and fauna and accused Pemex of downplaying the severity of the spill. A leader of the environmental group said Wednesday she saw three kinds of birds dead during a five-day tour of the spill area, and that rocks on the Coatzacoalcos River were being whitewashed with a cleaning agent.


Officials from Mexico's environmental prosecutor's office have insisted that no detergents or chemical agents were being used in the cleanup.


Source: Associated Press


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