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Nicaraguan Refinery Fire Controlled, But Takes Environmental Toll

A refinery fire on the Nicaragua’s Pacific coast that broke out on Wednesday was declared under control on Sunday night, although the effects of the oil spill has contaminated the coastal habitat, according to environmental groups.

The fire was at the Puma Energy facility located 40 miles northwest of Managua. It started after a 144,000-barrel fuel tank exploded. The situation was compounded when a second tank ignited on Thursday. Despite the damage, officials at Puma, a Dutch-Angolan company did not expect there to be any fuel shortages. According to Salvador Gallo, the deputy director of national fire department reported that there were still some small residual flare-ups burning on Sunday.

There were no deaths or injuries associated with the incident, but medical crews were dispatched to the area to deal with any effects of the smoke on the residents.

While there were no human casualties reported, the incident has had an effect on the environment. The Humboldt Center, an environmental group, reports that the blaze created an oil spill that has contaminated the coastal habitat. Victor Campos, director of the Humboldt Center said that approximately one half square mile of the coast was affected by an oil slick related to the fire. Some of the area is considered to be sensitive ecological habitat. Resource specialist Ruth Herrera said that the area is home to people, their livestock, birds and marine life. Herrera is also concerned that some of the wells in the area may have been contaminated as a result of the incident.

Meanwhile, Campos presented photos showing the areas affected by the spill. The beaches near the incident are nesting grounds for several species of turtle, and the Puerto Sandino coast and Miramar Beach provides about 12% of the nation’s salt.

Environmentalists believe that it could years for the damage to be reversed. Puma Energy said in a press release that the cause of the incident was unknown but that it will investigate the incident.

Lincoln Brown for Oilprice.com

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