The effects of an oil spill caused by an illegal pipeline tap in Tabasco have gone far beyond the usual environmental damage associated with such incidents: 200,000 people are without running water.
Five drinking water plants have had to shut down because spilled oil has entered the Teapa, Sierra and Grijalva rivers. There was a health risk to consumers as well as a risk of the oil damaging pumping equipment and filters, water officials said.
The communities affected are Pueblo Nuevo and the Parilla area, according to authorities with the municipality of Centro. The affected water plants are Pueblo Nuevo, Parilla, Gaviotas and two more in the city of Villahermosa. The latter two were closed as a preventive measure.
The spill was discovered on Sunday by residents of Ranchería Río Teapa in the municipality of Jalapa, and has since affected cultivated land and pasture within a 60-kilometer radius.
Pemex officials said yesterday the spill, caused by a tap in the Agave-Sitio Grande pipeline at Hueso de Puerco, was under control, but oil had entered the Teapa River.
Municipal water officials in Centro have asked the army for help supplying water to the communities affected.
The mayor said today that Pemex must accept its responsibility as well as provide factual information regarding the extent of the problem. “Although resolving the effect on the water supply is a priority, the environmental damage is very serious because this river, the Grijalva, is very important and the pollution will reach many places,” said Humberto de los Santos Bertruy.
Pemex crews are in the process of collecting the spilled oil with suction pumps and barriers.