May 3, 2024
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Profepa Reports Cement Spill in Maya Caves

TULUM, México – The Mexican Federal Environmental Protection Agency (Profepa) has issued a detailed report on the ongoing legal proceedings surrounding the environmental impact of the Maya Train project, explicitly focusing on Section 5 South, which stretches between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. The report, released with activists from the “Sálvame del Tren” movement, highlights severe environmental breaches, including contamination from cement spills in several caves of the Maya Aquifer.

According to the document, evidence of cement leakage was discovered in the Jaguar Claw, Oppenheimer, Little Hands, and Two Bullets caves due to pile driving intended to support the elevated viaduct for the train’s passage. This construction has caused the cement to harden in dry areas and fall into water bodies within the affected caverns, leading to significant ecological disturbances. Additionally, the report notes an oxidation process in the piles within these caves.

Profepa Reports Cement Spill in Maya Caves

The Profepa report also details the collapse of an unnamed cenote’s roof, changes in the topography of the caverns due to drilling, illegal water extraction, and the filling and burial of another unnamed cavern near the Little Hands cenote. Furthermore, scattered remnants of stony material were found in the aquifer mantle of a cavern, indicating widespread environmental disruption.

These findings confirmed that the construction violated Condition 26 of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) granted by Semarnat to the federal government for the Maya Train project. Patricia Godínez, an activist from “Sálvame del Tren,” highlighted the non-compliance and its implications for the project’s future.

In light of these revelations, the Federal Judiciary, acting on legal challenges against Profepa for failing to address these violations, upheld a precautionary measure issued in January 2024. This measure orders the suspension of construction activities on Section 5 South of the Maya Train until the lawsuit is resolved.

Profepa Reports Cement Spill in Maya Caves

Godínez further explained that the courts are expected to order a judicial inspection to assess the federal government’s non-compliance with the suspension. She also mentioned the possibility of criminal action against those responsible for disregarding the court’s precautionary measure, as construction activities have continued unabated, accelerating the drilling into caves and cenotes to support the elevated viaduct.

This ongoing situation poses a significant risk of subsurface collapse, a concern echoed by environmental experts and local communities. The Maya Train, intended to boost tourism and economic growth by connecting major destinations across the Yucatán Peninsula, has faced significant opposition due to its environmental and cultural impacts.

Profepa Reports Cement Spill in Maya Caves

As this complex legal and environmental saga continues, the future of the Maya Train project hangs in the balance, with potential long-term consequences for the region’s ecological integrity and cultural heritage.

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