Friday, June 14, 2024

Smoke from Pemex refinery in Nuevo León causes alarm

Smoke emanated from a Pemex refinery in Cadereyta, Nuevo León (part of the Monterrey metropolitan area) on Sunday, causing alarm to local residents. 

Videos of the yellow-tinted smoke circulated on social media, and some residents have reported poor air quality, according to the Sin Embargo news service. 

Residents of the area shared video footage of the column of smoke on Twitter (@Cesarmty/Twitter)

In a statement on Sunday night, Nuevo León governor Samuel García said that he communicated the incident to President López Obrador and was in contact with “the director,” although he didn’t specify if he spoke to the director of the plant, Héctor Lara Sosa, or Pemex director, Octavio Romero.

“He tells me that some compressors failed, and this caused the operation of the catalytic plant to lose control. However, it was declared an emergency and quickly handled,” García explained.

The state Environmental Ministry has already visited the plant, which could be closed down if it is found to have violated regulations.

“The Environmental Ministry went [to the refinery]. We are going to impose strong sanctions for this incident. Later, I hope to give you more information about the unfortunate event,” García said in a video posted to his social media networks. “We are not going to let anyone or anything pollute our air.” 

“I will never defend sources of pollution. On the contrary, I support renewable energy. Truly terrible videos of the pollution produced by this refinery are circulating today. They are alarming.” 

In a letter, the environmental authority noted that emissions intensified after 8:00 p.m.

“During this time of year and due to prevailing weather conditions, the impact of the emissions is very obvious, and they can be seen as they disperse through the Monterrey Metropolitan Area,” the letter said. 

Pemex claimed in a statement that the smoke did not represent a risk to the population. 

According to the state-owned oil company, the event lasted seven minutes, and the column of smoke was made up of “99% water vapor and the remaining 1% was hydrocarbon remnants, which gave the column of steam a yellow color.” 

The National Air Quality Information System (SINAICA) confirmed that the smoke did not represent a risk, noting that the values measuring air quality were not altered by the emissions event. 

Pemex emphasized that the refinery is now operating normally, reiterating its commitment to the safety of the local population and its workers. The company has been criticized in the past for its poor environmental practices

With reports from Sin Embargo and Aristegui

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