Mexico’s National Contaminated Sites Remediation Program for 2021-2024

Mexico’s National Contaminated Sites Remediation Program for 2021-2024

December 3, 2021 Off By administrator

Read in Spanish/Leer en Español.

On Nov. 5, 2021, approval of Mexico’s National Contaminated Sites Remediation Program for 2021-2024 was published in the Federal Official Gazette. The program aims to help fulfill the Mexican government’s commitments made in the Stockholm and Minamata International Convention agreements. In addition, it will assist the Sustainable Development section of the General Axis II. The “Social Policy” of the National Development Plan 2019-2024 states Mexico’s commitment to promoting sustainable development and to meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Basis for Program Creation

Article 4 of the Constitution of the United Mexican States establishes : “Every person has the right to a healthy environment for his or her development and well-being. The State shall guarantee respect for this right. Environmental damage and deterioration will generate responsibility for whoever causes it in terms of the law.” 

Contaminated Sites and Their Sources

The program is brought about as a means to address the existence of contaminated sites within Mexican territoryis.  The term “contaminated site” is defined by the General Law for the Prevention and Integral Management of Wastes (LGPGIR in Spanish) as the place, space, soil, body of water, facility, or any combination of these that has been contaminated with materials or wastes that, due to their quantities and characteristics, may represent a risk to human health, living organisms, and the use of goods or property of persons.

The program specifically states that site contamination in Mexico has been caused by various anthropogenic activities, including:

  1. Mining activities have generated large quantities of tailings (i.e., the resultant waste stream after the commodity of value is extracted from the ore material) and byproduct formed in smelting, welding, and other metallurgical and combustion processes from impurities in the metals or ores being treated, much of which was improperly disposed of before Mexico implemented environmental regulations.  These waste products leach into the ground, contaminating nearby soil and water.

  2. Hydrocarbon sector activities. Pollution from hydrocarbons and other potentially toxic substances has damaged soil and bodies of water.

  3. Agricultural activities. The use of agrochemicals and inadequate environmental practices in agricultural activities has impacted not only the soil in treated areas but also rivers, lagoons, and coastal areas.

  4. Industrial activities. Consumer-good production has generated sources of pollution due to improper handling of hazardous materials and other types of waste.

  5. Service facilities. Gasoline service stations, vehicle repair shops, railroad stations and facilities, bus terminals, and airports, among others, have generated soil and groundwater contamination due to leaks in containers of hazardous…

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