Red-tide a real danger after Costa Rica chemical spill, say experts

Red-tide a real danger after Costa Rica chemical spill, say experts

San Francisco: The toxic spill off Costa Rica’s Pacific coast could lead to a so-called red tide, becoming a dead zone to marine life in the vicinity, experts said on Monday.

Saturday’s incident saw a barge carrying chemicals sink and release quantities of its 180-ton load of ammonia nitrate into the waters near the town of Puntarenas.

Humans were allowed back into the waters at one of the country’s most popular beaches as soon as Sunday.

But scientists said it could take three days to see what damage the chemical fertilizer does out at sea

Ammonia consumes oxygen as it breaks down which could cause a “dead zone” of oxygen-depleted water in which marine life would perish.

Also on Monday, the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Works and Transport said the barge should not have been hauling that cargo in that place because it lacked the required navigation permits.

A spokesman for the Port Maritime Division of the ministry said the barge, owned by agrochemical company Fertica, had lacked adequate permits since July 2014.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.

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