Latin America Green News: Chile investigates shrimp die-offs, Costa Rica plans to go carbon neutral, Mexico prioritizes water use

Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.

March 25-29, 2013


Thousands of dead shrimp and small fish have emerged from a duct of the Bocamina II plant, an Endesa-owned thermoelectric power generation plant located near Coronel in southern Chile. This incident comes just days after a mass die-off of shrimp, crabs, and other marine life was discovered along a beach in the same area. Several fisherman and international environmentalists have blamed pollution from local power plants for the incidents. Endesa and Colbún, two of the country’s electricity generators and owners of three area power plants, have countered these claims, stating that the die-off likely had natural causes. The Environmental Crime Investigation Unit expects to release a full report on the incident within a month. (BioBioChile 3/26/2013; The Santiago Times 3/22/2013) 

Chile’s National Forest Corporation (Conaf) is pursuing strategies to protect Darwin’s fox—a critically endangered fox species found in Nahuelbuta National Park and Chiloé Island. Facing threats such as habitat loss and diseases transmitted by area dogs, the fox population has dwindled to approximately 500 animals. Aiming to address these issues, Conaf has initiated a vaccination campaign for local canines and installed 15 cameras to help scientists investigate the state of the current fox population and its habitat. (La Tercera 3/24/2013)

Persistent air pollution in Chillán and Chillán Viejo has earned the municipalities a “saturated zone” declaration, a label given to areas that exceed ambient standards for air pollutants such as particulates, ozone, and carbon monoxide. The designation will allow the cities to develop a formal Decontamination Plan, focusing on areas such as transportation, firewood use, building energy efficiency and industrial emissions. (Nación 3/25/2013)

Costa Rica

Residents of Puerto Jimenez, Golfito have filed an appeal in Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court against the region’s regulatory plan, which paved the way for the approval of a new marina development in the Golfo Dulce. The plan is being challenged on the grounds that it was never fully publicized, lacks a technical analysis of the area’s biodiversity, and was elaborated and paid for by a private company that would personally benefit from new development projects. (El País 3/28/2013)

Costa Rica’s CRUSA Foundation has granted over 1.4 million dollars to help protect the country’s vulnerable watersheds. The grant will help finance seven projects, including a “water fund”, which aims to create an investment portfolio for water and watershed-related projects. Other initiatives include the strengthening of 60 rural aqueducts in Costa Rica’s northern and central regions and integrated management of the Purires River micro-watershed in Cartago. (El Financiero 3/22/2013)                                             

Costa Rica will aim to become carbon-neutral by 2021, claimed René Castro, the country’s Minister of Energy and the Environment during a recent trip to China. Castro indicated that part of his trip was geared toward learning about China’s strategy to increase production while decreasing its energy consumption. Costa Rica, which is currently projected to increase its energy consumption by 7% by 2016, will need to invest at least 1% of GDP to help neutralize emissions. (El Financiero 3/26/2013)   


Helping to mark World Water Day, the Mexican government has declared water to be an issue of national priority and security, paving the way for the elaboration of new and improved policies to govern water use. The government will seek to guarantee supply, reduce waste, and prohibit the drilling of wells without prior authorization from the National Water Commission. Currently, 35 million Mexicans live without adequate water access. (AméricaEconomía 3/23/2013)

For more news on the issues we care about visit our Latin America News archive or read our other International blogs.

This week’s news was compiled by Maria Belenky

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