The former municipal government of Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, allowed 35,000 tonnes of trash to accumulate at a transfer station on the small Caribbean Sea island, according to local officials.
Mayor Atanea Gómez Ricalde, who took office at the end of September, blamed her predecessor, federal Green Party Deputy Juan Carillo Soberanis, for the mess on the island, a popular tourism destination.
The National Action Party mayor said her government began cleaning up the dump as soon as it was sworn in and 11,350 tonnes of trash have already been shipped to the mainland. Gómez also said that 1,600 tonnes of garbage have been removed from the streets of Isla Mujeres over the past seven weeks.
“Cleaning up Isla Mujeres, keeping our island clean and creating a healthy environment is a priority,” she said. “We could no longer live with these kinds of focuses of infection.”
Santiago Quiñonez Hernández, the municipality’s public services director, estimated that the previous government allowed trash to accumulate at the transfer station – located adjacent to the sea – for two years.
“There was at least 35,000 tonnes of accumulated trash,” he said, adding that it generated leachates (liquids) that filtered into groundwater reserves and the ocean.
Quiñonez said that about 23,000 tonnes of toxic trash remains at the dump and it will take at least two months to transfer all of it to a dump on the mainland part of the municipality of Isla Mujeres.
Local authorities also said they have discovered 53 clandestine dumps on the mainland of the municipality, which adjoins Benito Juárez, where Cancún is located.
Gómez said Isla Mujeres has been used as a dump for Cancún and Puerto Morelos for years and the situation must change. She indicated she was prepared to take legal action to that end.
The mayor also said that Isla Mujeres is the second fastest growing municipality in the state and she has a responsibility to look out for its environment and residents, even though previous municipal governments neglected to do so.
With reports from Milenio