Fertilizer firm caught with expired certificates

The firm that owns the barge that capsized Saturday near Puntarenas Centro is in legal trouble.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said Monday that none of the seven barges operated by the company, Fertica, has a valid certificate of navigability.

The certificate is required, officials said, even though the barges only carry cargo a few miles from the port of Caldera to the company’s fertilizer production plant.

The barge dumped 180 tons of ammonium nitrate into the sea Saturday. The health impact has been negligible.

However, an environmental group used the mishap as a reason to criticize the use of chemical fertilizers in Costa Rica.

The organization is the Federación Costarricense para la Conservación del Ambiente. A release blamed the mishap on the abuse of chemical fertilizers in Costa Rica and said the country imported 82,570 tons in 2012.

The release suggested that agrochemicals turn to agrotoxins and then to poison. The organization also criticized the excessive use of insecticides, particularly in banana cultivation.

The release Monday by the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes noted that a bill that would provide strong penalties for such ocean mishaps still is tied up in the legislature.

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