Oil spill clean-up begins at Puerto Sandino

(posted April 11, 12:35 p.m.)- Last week’s oil spill at Nicaragua’s Puerto Sandino is reportedly under control and a multi-institutional clean-up is already underway along 1.5 hectares of affected Pacific coastline in León, 90 kilometers west of Managua.

Vice Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources Roberto Araquistáin announced Monday that the pipe leak has been fixed, the spill contained and clean-up initiated. The government would not say how much crude oil was leaked, the environmental impacts of the spill, or how long clean-up would take.

The leaky oil pipe has been sealed (photo courtesy of Puma)

The spill, which was originally blamed on the Puma Energy Plant, was later discovered to be due to a leak in a 50-year-old disused pipe owned by the neighboring private energy company Geosa, which owns two bunker-oil power plants at Puerto Sandino.

Puma Energy is, however, helping out with the clean-up.

“A thorough investigation is taking place as we speak to determine the amount of product spilled,” Daniel Mencía, general manager of Puma Energy in Nicaragua, told The Nicaragua Dispatch in an email. “The clean-up operation and remediation actions are still being performed in the area, and a completion date for all the phases of the operation has not been determined.”

Mencía said all the clean-up activities are being coordinated by an inter-institutional committee formed by different government entities, including the municipality of Nagarote.

The extent of the environmental damage caused by the oil spill is still unknown.

Puma Energy, whose international headquarters are in Switzerland, bought ExxonMobil’s fuels marketing and supply businesses in Nicaragua, Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama earlier this year.

Starting on March 1, Puma began its year-long process of switching all the Esso gas stations in Nicaragua over to the Puma brand. So far the company has already switched over 10% of the gas stations and 100% of the refinery operations in Nicaragua, according to company spokeswoman Mariana Cavin.