Cadereyta Refinery Closed Over Pollution Investigation

Reuters, March 1, 2024

Authorities of Mexico's northern border state Nuevo Leon said Friday that they have "closed" the Cadereyta refinery over the refusal of state oil company Pemex to collaborate with environmental inspections.

Led by opposition State Governor Samuel Garcia, the state government in January threatened to close the refinery, which has a capacity to process 275,000 barrels per day (bpd), unless it took measures to bring down high emissions.

One Pemex source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Hector Lara refinery was still operating. The source added the refinery was "protected" against such actions by state governments.

Pemex did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nuevo Leon authorities said the refinery was closed following a refusal "to receive the team from the environmental ministry as well as ostensible and notorious emission of pollutants to the atmosphere."

Complaints about pollution in the metropolitan area, including about one incident in March last year, when locals documented large volumes of thick, yellow and black smoke billowing from flare stacks, continue.

Pemex is owned by the state and the chief executive officer is appointed by the president.

Since taking office, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the ruling National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party has vowed to invest heavily to rehabilitate ailing refineries, including measures meant to reduce harmful emissions.

But Garcia, who belongs to the Citizens' Movement, an opposition party, said following the March incident that he would "impose harsh penalties."

Last month, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, which oversees environmental issues in the United States, Mexico and Canada, also said it would review a complaint about emissions from the Cadereyta refinery.

(Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez; Editing by Stefanie Eschenbacher and David Gregorio)

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