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Costa Rica’s Ammonium Nitrate Spill; What Went Wrong?

Costa Rica News – So many failures of the emergency protocol occurred this weekend following a 180 ton chemical spill.

costa rica ammonium nitrate costa rica 1The chemical fertilizer (9 shipping containers worth!) overtook an area of the sea near Puntarenas. 

This is one of the most popular beach areas due to its closeness to the metropolitan area. Tourist and locals often go there. Many swam in the contaminated water for hours, when they should have been evacuated at once.

The spill happened at 2:31 pm on Saturday, when a barge was overturned by waves, spilling the fertilizer chemical, ammonium nitrate. It took 12 hours to declare a red alert and then another 5 hours to notify the public.

In a modern age, the news should have been spread in a matter of minutes, not 17 hours. Despite the severity of a red alert, very few police, rescue workers and firefighters were sent to evacuate bathers.

The water is being assessed and the alert has been lowered to yellow. Fishing is not allowed for 72 hours and red tide has not been ruled out. Those who were in the water or who ate fish from it should pay attention for signs such as nausea, abdominal pain, and skin or eye irritations and seek medical help for them.

Not to mention there were no permits for carrying the ammonium nitrate……who will be held accountable?

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