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Government of Mexico confirms closure of Sac-Tun excavation site outside Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen, Q.R. — The Government of Mexico has released a statement confirming the closure of the Sac-Tun excavation site outside Playa del Carmen. On Friday, federal officials released a statement explaining that the site has been closed down after verifying the continued extraction of limestone.

The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources says the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) verified activities being carried out by the company and preventively placed closure seals in terms of environmental impact and land use change.

The Ministry says the seals were placed “as a result of the actions for improper use of the natural resources of our country and the deterioration of the environment.”

In a statement to the press, they said Profepa made an inspection visit to the La Rosita property of the company Calizas Industriales del Carmen SA de CV (Calica), a subsidiary of the American company Vulcan Materials, in the municipality of Solidaridad.

They said the closure was made since “the subsoil is property of the nation and whoever makes use of it without permission violates Mexican laws” and also because “the exploitation of stone material under the water table has caused serious environmental damage, such as the definitive and irrecoverable loss of the subsoil.”

The Ministry says “as a result of the inspection, the existence of probable serious damage and deterioration to the ecosystems was noted, therefore, based on environmental legislation, the total temporary closure of the activities and works carried out on the site was imposed as a security measure.”

“The exploitation of stone material under the water table has caused serious environmental damage, such as the permanent and irrecoverable loss of the subsoil, alteration of the aquifer pressure, risk of subsidence and fractures of the subsoil, as well as the quality and purity of the surface water and underground drainage due to increases in the formation of cavities, in addition to the alteration of the natural landscape and the fragmentation of ecosystems,” they reported.

The closure came a day after they were videoed blasting rock under the sea. According to the Government, the American-based company was also closed and fined in 2017 and again in 2018 for exceeding their limestone extraction limits.

In response to the allegations, Vulcan Materials, the owning company of Sac-Tun who extracts the limestone outside Playa del Carmen for U.S. export, released a statement of their own.

“On May 5, at around 2 p.m. CDT, Mexican government officials unexpectedly presented local Vulcan Materials Company (the “Company”) employees with arbitrary shutdown orders to immediately cease underwater quarrying and extraction operations at its SAC TUN subsidiary in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

“The Company strongly believes that this action by the Mexican government is illegal,” and goes on to say that they have the necessary permits to operate.

Last weekend, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador did a flyover of the region to verify construction on his Maya Train project. While in Playa del Carmen, he also flew over the Sac-Tun excavation site after being told the company was still extracting stone.

The week before, the government said that after a meeting with personnel from Vulcan, both sides agreed to turn the land over for tourist use that could include a cruise port and Maya Train station.