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KEYCODE BAYER #194

Business News America, June 13, 2005

Mexico: Semarnat to begin Cromatos cleanup works

Mexico's natural resources and environment ministry Semarnat has begun the process to clean up an area polluted by the now defunct chrome company Cromatos de México in Mexico state's (Edomex) Tultitlán city, Semarnat announced.

Along with the Edomex state government, Sermarnat is still evaluating its options in cleaning the site, which is considered one of the country's largest environmental liabilities, according to a press release.

Cromatos de México, a unit of German company Bayer, operated on the site between 1958 and 1978 and produced 12t/d of chrome and aluminum for the vehicle industry. The open-air production process lacked emissions control and discharge and waste management, Semarnat said.

During the 20 years of operations, the company generated some 75,000t of waste and chrome-contaminated land. Operations were eventually shut down by health services.

Since then the polluted area was closed off in 1983 to prevent the wind from sweeping the contaminated soil into other areas, but leachates continue to leak into the ground.

Cordoning off the polluted area was the first stage of a four-step program. The second stage will require demolishing the old company building and carrying out tests to determine whether the chrome can be contained safely on site or, if not, how it can be removed safely.

The third and fourth stages will involve treating any residues on the site to ensure it is safe, and finally restoring the area and converting it into a park, BNamericas previously reported. In November 2003, the costs for the cleanup were estimated at 380mn pesos (US$34.9mn).
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