OIJ Investigates Signs of Pollution in Mouth of Nosara River

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OIJ and MINAE are investigating contamination leaking into the mouth of the Nosara River, but water samples taken were insufficient for analysis.

Alan Guevara Medina, inspector from the Organism of Judicial Investigation (OIJ), reported that when they went to inspect the river mouth along with the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) in June, they could see where the flow of fecal waste comes out. “The smell is perceptible there in the location,” he related.

However, the water sample that they sent to OIJ’s forensic science laboratory was insufficient for analysis, so they have requested that officials from the lab come to inspect the river, take the samples that they need and go to nearby houses to test the septic tanks in the area and analyze which one is the source of contamination, according to Guevara.

They are currently waiting for the lab to advise them of when they will come so they can plan the inspection to coincide with low tide, when the contamination is detectable.

Dr. Alejandro Gutierrez of Paradise Medical Center in Nosara said that water contamination is “super serious” although so far he hasn’t attended any cases of illness related to water. He noted that consumption of contaminated water can cause vomiting, diarrhea and subsequent dehydration, abdominal pain, fever as well the risk of hepatitis.  

The contamination was first reported by Javier Hernandez Jiron, of the fishing association ASOPPERNO, who contacted MINAE in January and formally denounced the situation before the Ministry of Health in March. He contacted MINAE again in April, noting that the situation was getting worse and that the Ministry of Health had not been able to detect the contamination. Hernandez pointed out that they needed to go during low tide to detect it.

Subsequently, Mauricio Méndez Venegas, subdirector of the Tempisque Conservation Area of MINAE, said that a denunciation was filed on May 30 with the Public Ministry, which was amplified by district attorney Jorge Araya on June 10, and a visit was coordinated with OIJ on June 17, when they took water samples. An additional visit by the Ministry of Health was also coordinated.

“With the help of the Ministry of Health we hope to identify the source of contamination that emanates in the riverbed in order to take the necessary measures to eliminate it,” affirmed Mendez.