Diana Cecilia Escobedo believes that Ohuira Bay is the most vulnerable area of the lagoon system that surrounds Topolobampo
LOS MOCHIS._ Considering that the Bay of Ohuira is the most vulnerable area of the lagoon system that surrounds Topolobampo, it would be a mistake to locate the ammonia plant that the Gas and Petrochemical company of the West is building there.
This was stated by Diana Cecilia Escobedo Urías, an environmental researcher at the Interdisciplinary Research Center for Regional Integral Development under the National Polytechnic Institute, based in Guasave.
“My position, like that of many of my colleagues who have had the opportunity to work on that site, is of great concern about the threats that a project of this magnitude may have. I think there is an error in the location of the site, several academics have said it several times, I think they chose the most vulnerable lagoon system. They were wrong about the place, ”he said.
“The knowledge that we have of the area is of years working there, and we have seen that in effect the CFE plant has an impact, Pemex has an impact, that the same boats of the fishermen have had an impact, and the bad planning from the Ahome City Council also, which in 2005 diverted the water from the city’s wastewater treatment system, which was in the Santa María lagoon, to the Ohuira Bay; and all this has increased the pressure on the area, causing an increase in the intensity and frequency of the appearance of red tide, and we have a strongly impacted lagoon, ”he added.
The land where the ammonia plant is intended to be built is within the Ramsar 2025 Lagunas de Santa María-Topolobampo-Ohuira site, within the priority hydrological region Bahía de Ohuira-Ensenada del Pabellón, Area of Importance for Bird Conservation number 33, Priority Terrestrial Region 22 Topolobampo-Caimanero Marshlands, and according to studies, the filling of the site has already caused alterations in the coastal currents of the lagoon and a large number of materials incorporated
The Gas y Petroquímica de Occidente project, a subsidiary of ProMan in Mexico, includes the construction and operation of a plant for the production of anhydrous ammonia with a capacity of 2,200 metric tons per day; It includes the installation of the production and storage plant, as well as the construction of a gas pipeline for the reception of natural gas, as an input, and an ammonia duct to send the products to the Pemex terminal located in the port of Topolobampo.
Escobedo Urías, who has a Doctorate in Marine Sciences, warned that dredging for the construction of a port terminal and maintenance dredges will redispose dissolved nutrients, heavy metals and pesticides from sediments, which due to poor water renewal will generate an increase in harmful algal blooms, events of low oxygen concentrations and poisoning of organisms of fishery importance.
And he pointed out that the area to be dredged corresponds to the area of a greater abundance of shrimp postlarva, as well as eggs and fish larvae, so there will be a highly relevant direct adverse effect on artisanal fishing and even the high seas.
“According to enough research, it is clear that the sediments in the area are contaminated with heavy metals and pesticides, a product of the years and years that agricultural sources are arriving at the site, and those toxic materials would continue to contaminate all organisms in the food chain, such as shrimp, fish, and birds that feed on these organisms, sea turtles that enter to eat the macroalgae found there, and dolphins that have their young in that area: it is a critical habitat for the reproduction of dolphin, ”he said.
For the disposition of the dredges produced by dredges, three sites have been arranged, including the San Ignacio Canyon and the Farallón Basin, and the researchers anticipate that this will cause contamination of one of the most productive areas for the reproduction and recruitment of various species of fish, especially the sardine Monterrey, in addition to being the priority feeding zone for sea turtles and feeding zone of the sea lion breeding colony.
In addition, they indicate that the San Ignacio Canyon has high biodiversity and is the area where the most intense coastal upwelling of the Southern Gulf of California takes place, and that the Farallón Basin has two underwater mountains whose bathymetric characteristics determine the circulation patterns or The primary productivity of the area, in addition to having laminated diatomaceous sediments in anoxic conditions that are a fundamental tool of high resolution in climate change studies.
Another concern expressed by Dr. Escobedo Urías, who has a research project on the establishment of the baseline of the ecological quality of the Bay of Ohuira, is that it will cause a strong affectation to larvae of fish and crustaceans by dumping of brines and high-temperature waters.
“In their Environmental Impact Statement they have been making adjustments to try to show that there will be no impact on the entry of hot water and high salinity to a lagoon-like Ohuira, through its numerical model, but they have not been able to show. Experience in models with environments like these tells us that the risk is high, that they are minimizing the impact of hot water and high salinity in Ohuira, which is a system that has very little water turnover. The pollutants remain a long time in that lagoon, and anything that enters Ohuira remains a long time, and therefore, its effects are potentiated, ”he said.
As stated in the project, the ammonia plant will suck two thousand cubic meters per hour of seawater, and the researchers believe that this will ‘hijack’ numerous larvae of fish and shrimp, estimating the destruction of larvae equivalent to more than 500 tons of shrimp, which corresponds to 61 percent of total annual production.
According to scientific forecasts, the operation of the ammonia plant will affect the habitat of numerous organisms, including 32 species listed in some protection category of NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010, of which 13 are ‘threatened’, 14 in ‘special protection’ and 5 in ‘danger of extinction’.
The estuary where the plant is located houses more than 100,000 shorebirds, which represent 84 percent of the migratory birds distributed in Mexico. And the project site is located about two kilometers from Patos Island, where the species Egretta Rufescens, Pelecanus Occidentalis, Phalacrocorax Auritus, Fregata Magnificens and Nyctanassa Violacea nest, subject to special protection by NOM-ECOL-059-2001 , whose nesting and specific wealth confer a very important and high value for conservation.
Diana Cecilia Escobedo Urías said that the effects on birds are already clear since they are moving their nesting site from Patos Island to Bledos Island.
“They (the GPO executives) have repeatedly said that those who criticize them, as deputy Clouthier did (this week), we are poorly informed, but it is not the opinion of a single person, they are diverse scientific works that are having the alert tone, ”he said.
THE OTHER RISK
From page 183 to 193 of the Environmental Risk Study, carried out in December 2013 by Corporativo Asociado de Profesionales SA de CV, regarding the modeling of risk due to leakage, various possible scenarios of ammonia duct leakage, ammonia leakage are presented in a storage tank, and natural gas leakage.
In that sense, Diana Cecilia Escobedo Urías highlights the possible scenario of an accidental leakage of anhydrous ammonia due to a total rupture of the 18-inch diameter pipeline, located in the pipeline corridor on the side of the road to the Pemex pier, in front of the main access to the CFE plant, due to an impact hit of a vehicle, product being released through a nine-inch diameter hole for an average time of five minutes, which is the estimated maximum time of a leak after the valves are activated emergency for flow cutting.
“It has been said by GPO that it will be the safest plant in the world, but accidents happen. In their Environmental Risk Study, they themselves say that in the case of an ammonia leak, not inside the plant, nobody questions the safety inside the plant, but in the pipelines, a leak can occur an accident, and possible scenarios are considered in your Risk Study. Then, because of the amount of ammonia that passes through it, it would cause a very important accident, in which all the communities that are within a radius of two kilometers would die quickly, and the toxic cloud would have a range of up to 45 kilometers, ”he said.
“We are not talking about affectation to flora and fauna, we are talking about human lives. A five-minute leak of his ammoniaduct is the death of everything alive in 15 kilometers, and with an affectation of 45, and this is not what I am saying, it is not being invented by the collective Here No, it is the product of its Risk Study Environmental, which they themselves paid and that can be consulted, ”he added.
THE AMPAROS “LAWSUITS”
The collective Here has not promoted the filing of Amparo trials to stop the project, and they have obtained that three District Courts grant the provisional suspension.
Trials 528 / 2018-7B, promoted by the community of Lázaro Cárdenas, and 628 / 2018-2A, promoted by the community of Paredones Fishing Field, are based on the lack of consultation with local indigenous communities. Both are based in the Sixth District Court.
In addition to Lázaro Cárdenas and Paredones, the indigenous communities of Ohuira, El Muellecito and El Carricito, and other communities with the presence of the May-Yoreme tribe, whose livelihoods are the fishing activity and which were not consulted for the installation of the ammonia plant, in accordance with the provisions of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, signed by Mexico.
The amparo 724 / 2018-1 trial, based on the Seventh District Court and promoted by the Ejido Commission and the El Muellecito Ejido Supervisory Board, is based on the right to have a healthy environment, as the Article 4 Constitutional, considering that the construction and operation of the ammonia plant will generate irreparable damage to the ecosystems of the region and a serious risk to the public health of people residing nearby.
In addition, the investigation file 973/2018 was opened after a criminal complaint filed by Eginardo Álvarez Ahumada and Alejandro Álvarez Armenta, accusing a false deed of the Maritime-Terrestrial Federal Zone.
María Cecilia González Ayala, Armando Lorenzo Rodríguez Gámez, Antonio Oscar Ojeda Benítez, former Federal Deputy Rubén Benjamín Félix Hays, and the Gas and Petrochemical Company of the West through their legal representative, José Edivigildo Carranza Beltrán, are indicated as accused.
According to the complaint, they distorted the Rural Land Regulation Law of the State of Sinaloa to obtain public deeds, calling the estuary ‘poor quality agostadero’, thus obtaining land use and demarcation ‘irregular’, and construction licenses based on ‘ impossible assumptions’.
The complaint was extended against Jesús Tesemi Avendaño Guerrero, in his capacity as a delegate in Sinaloa of the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection, by omission.
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