Environmental enforcement team is on the site of Ruta 1856

The nation’s environmental enforcement agency has sent a crew of investigators to the northern part of the country to explore claims of damage by the controversial Ruta 1856.

The agency is the Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo, which said Thursday that two judges, three forestry engineers, two lawyers and a biologist are at the site of the 160-kilometers (99-mile) highway.

The primary subject of the investigation is the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, said José Lino Chaves, Tribunal president. But he would not rule out bringing others into the case.

The Tribunal is known for aggressive enforcement and frequently closes down construction sites and hales polluters into environmental court.

The troubled highway project already is being investigated by
prosecutors because of allegations of bribery.

In many areas, the work appears to be shoddy, and the government of Nicaragua has alleged environmental damage to the Río San Juan that parallels the highway.

The road was built after Nicaraguan troops invades a part of Costa Rica. Officials say it was a defensive measure.

However, there are frequent claims of mismanagement, spearheaded by the Spanish-language newspaper La Nación. Air photos show in many places a scar of bare soil. There also are allegations that trees were cut without permits.

Tribunal experts will be on the site until at least later today.

Typically the Tribunal experts will return to their offices and prepare a report, if environmental damage is found. That will lead to legal action. The Tribunal judges have the power to assess stiff fines and halt projects.

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