Environmental complaints nearly doubled, eco tribunal says

Environmental complaints nearly doubled in 2010 from 462 the previous year to the current 849, said the Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo. Many of the complaints were filed by the tribunal itself.

The principal reasons the tribunal opened a file were tree cutting and invasion of protected areas.

The tribunal included the information in its annual report. It said that one reason there were so many active cases is because the agency conducted sweeps during the year. In each sweep tribunal inspectors found violations.

Other complaints were contamination of rivers and unapproved land use changes.

José Lino Chaves, president of the tribunal, said that environmental problems continue to increase beyond the
pace of increases in enforcement resources.

Some 19 cases were opened after tribunal inspectors did a sweep in Los Chiles and Upala in March. The bulk of the effort was around the Caño Negro wetlands. The tribunal said the number of cases reflects the expansion of the pineapple production in the area.

Among the complaints were destruction of mangroves and the infiltration of agrochemicals into protected areas and into the water supply.

In July inspectors returned to the area to check on local sawmills. That was in Upala, Guatuso, Los Chiles and San Carlos de Alajuela.

The tribunal is an agency of the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones. It has the power to assess fines and demand payment for environmental damage and restoration.

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