Environmental panel expects record number of complaints

The Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo expects to get about 600 formal complaints of environmental damage by the end of the year.

The agency is extrapolating from the 421 complaints that have been received by the end of August, it said. The tribunal, which adjudicates cases of environmental damage, said that the provinces of Puntarenas, San José, Limón and Alajuela are the ones with the most cases.

The number of cases received by the end of August are equal to all the cases handled in 2009, the tribunal said.

The province of Puntarenas is in first place with 115 open cases, the agency said. The province runs down the Pacific coast to Panamá. There are 90 open files for San José, 72
for Limón and 63 complaints in Alajuela.

As expected in areas where there is construction, the
cantons of Osa and Golfito in the south of the province of Puntarenas have 115 complaints, more than half of the total.

In Puntarenas province alone there are 18 investigations over the destruction, invasion or damage to mangroves.

The tribunal published a list by province of all the open complaints but unlike previous reports, the summary did not include the names of possible violators.

Some persons named by the tribunal in the past objected because they said that the case was either flimsy, incorrect or already resolved.

Typical complaints involve cutting trees, chemical pollution, invasion of a protected zone around a river, stream or water source, extraction of minerals illegally, poorly functioning treatment plants and moving soil without permission.

The tribunal has the power to assess fines and penalties for environmental damage and does so frequently.

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