Mexico's new oil refinery threatens 4,000 animals

Experts identified 4,239 animals from 119 species between March 13 and April 1, 2019, in the area

Mexico's new oil refinery threatens 4,000 animals
The refinery will affects endangered species such as the mantled howler monkey - Photo: Ésteban Felix/AP
English 30/06/2019 13:46 Astrid Rivera Mexico City Actualizada 13:54
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According to the environmental impact assessment study published by Pemex, over 4,000 animals from 119 species, including, mammals, reptiles, and birds are threatened by the construction of an oil refinery, Dos Bocas, in the state of Tabasco. According to the document written by the Mexican Oil Institute (IMP), a public research center specialized in the oil industry, experts identified 4,239 animals from 119 species, between March 13 and April 1, 2019, in the area where the refinery will be built.

The majority of animals who inhabit the area are birds, 3,303; 334 amphibians; 294 reptiles, and 116 mammals.

The species present in the areas include grackles, hummingbirds, mantled howler monkeys, American white pelicans, porcupines, coyotes, nutrias, and crocodiles.

At least 27 animals found in the location are in danger of extinction, including the mantled howler monkey and the anteater, while the species at risk of extinction in the future are the porcupine, the nutria, the bare-throated tiger heron, the limpkin, and the Vireonidae, as well as the Oxybelis fulgidus snake, the leptophis mexicanus snake, and the Mexican spiny-tailed iguana.

The document details that during the process to prepare the site for the construction of the oil-refinery, a “decrease in the number of animal species is possible and the alteration of the mobility patterns of the terrestrial fauna.”

Acknowledging the risks

Although the area where the Pemex refinery will be built is not a protected natural area, authorities acknowledge that “it presents elements of ecological relevance such as mangroves, water bodies, wetlands, and protected fauna species.” Nevertheless, the IMP argues that thanks to the birds' habits of “not staying in one single place,” the construction of the refinery won't be a risk because “they will flee the place when they feel threatened.”

In regards to the mammals and reptiles, the government body claims that amphibians, reptiles, and mammals are only seen when they are looking for food; nevertheless, it doesn't dismiss the possibility of finding one of these species in the area. Therefore, the IMP proposes the implementation of rescue and expelling plans to protect the animals' integrity.

Nevertheless, the environmental impact assessment crossed out key information about how the construction of the oil refinery will impact the area. The document also concealed information in regards to the vegetation that will be removed to prepare the site for the construction and how much this will cost.

Although the environmental impact assessment mentions mitigation measures such as wildlife and vegetation conservation, Pemex doesn't explain or detail what will be the actions implemented to protect the animals.

Moreover, the environmental impact assessment explains that “although the development of the project will cause moderate affectations in the environment, these will be controlled, mitigated, or compensated through different environment control systems, management and rescue programs, the relocation of wildlife, as well as reforestation programs, therefore, it is expected that the affectations will be reduced and that they contribute to the improvement of the quality of the environmental system through the production of clean energies.”

At risk of flooding

The study explains that the main risk factor for the project are floods, the sea, and earthquakes: “The project area is at high risk because of floods and erosion caused by high-energy waves.”

On May 11, EL UNIVERSAL published an article that detailed how the area where the Dos Bocas refinery will be built was often flooded.

Defending the project

Despite the environment damages the Dos Bocas oil refinery will cause, the environmental impact assessment claims that the social and economic benefits will be greater.

The IMP emphasizes that the economic benefits generated by the project as it will prevent fuel imports and will promote the energetic self-sufficiency in Mexico. It also argues that it will spark economic development in southern Mexico, an area that had “been abandoned until recently.”

The environmental impact assessment also claims that the government's climate action program defines the strategic measures that will be implemented to lower the emissions of greenhouse gases.


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