Three pineapple plantations closed in environmental sweep

The Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo, the environment police, closed down three pineapple plantations this week for alleged threats to the Refugio de Vida Silvestre Caño Negro.

The tribunal also cited internal violations at the plantations.

Closed were Agropecuaria VISA S.A. in Cuatro Esquinas de Los Chiles, Agrícola del Valle S.A. in Veracruz de Caño Negro, and Agropecuaria PPM S.A. in Buenavista de Guatuso, said the tribunal. Caño Negro is in northern Alajuela province in the cantons of Upala, Los Chiles and Guatuso.

Judges of the tribunal personally served the closure orders accompanied by the Fuerza Pública, said the tribunal.

At Agricola del Valle, the inspectors found water sources affected, mangroves drained, trees cut and burned and the improper use of agricultural chemicals, said the tribunal. The plantation is just 10 kilometers, about 6 miles from Caño Negro, which is a short distance environmentally, said the tribunal. Caño Negro is an internationally recognized wildlife habitat and wetlands.
At Agropecuaria VISA S.A., which is 300 hectares, about 740 acres, the investigation was for illegal wells, the dumping of sediment among trees and misuse of trees as well as operating without a valid environmental permit, said the tribunal.

At Agopecuaria PPM S.A. the tribunal said it found trees cut, changes in the use of the land, bad management of waste water and lack of permits. The tribunal also said that lumber cut without permission was confiscated.

The Tribunal has made two sweeps around Caño Negro, both in 2010. Inspectors found many environmental problems. The area also has a lot of pineapple operations but none were closed last year.

The tribunal said that much of the land had been used for rice production so it is lowland near the mangroves. The tribunal said it was concerned with human health, too.

Elsewhere pineapple plantations are big problems with concerns that the agrochemicals have infiltrated the local water supplies.

The tribunal is likely to hold formal hearings on the allegations of environmental damage.

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