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Mexican fishermen clean beaches after oil spill

Spill due to an ‘act of vandalism’ against pipeline at maritime terminal in Salina Cruz

Gulf News

Mexico City: Fishermen on Mexico’s southern Pacific coast were cleaning up beaches in the wake of an October 9 oil spill whose potential environmental impact remained unclear.

The spill was due to an “act of vandalism” against a pipeline at the maritime terminal in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca state, according to state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).

Last month’s spill followed one caused by the magnitude-8.2 earthquake that struck southern Mexico on September 7.

“We have never seen so much oil in the sea,” Raul Gallegos, president of the Costa del Marques Saltmakers Production Cooperative, told Efe news on Friday.

The spill, which Gallegos said was roughly 6km long and 2km wide, posed a threat to the livelihoods of the fishermen of Salinas del Marques as well as the town’s tourism sector.

Salt production may also be at risk if the seawater that is the cooperative’s raw material remains contaminated.

To deal with the spill and make up for residents’ lost income, Pemex and the municipal government created temporary jobs cleaning up the beaches.

Working from 7am to 4pm., the cleaners use shovels to gather up globs of oil that are then placed in sacks.

At the moment, Gallegos said, most of the oil is at a layer 30cm under the surface of the sand, but the traditionally rougher seas of December will leave those patches exposed.