Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos sent his environment minister to the Caribbean coast to make sure US coal giant Drummond halts the loading of coal onto ships until it is able to comply to environmental regulations.
The national government tightened the control of the environmental regulations after the US coal company was fined for illegally dumping 2,000 tons of coal in the Caribbean Sea.
In order to diminish damage to the environment, Colombian authorities ordered Drummond to “suspend all its activities of loading and unloading of coal done outside the system of direct loading.”
The coal company said it is unable to comply with the new regulations until March and its exports may come to a halt if the new regulations are imposed immediately.
According to the harbor master of the Caribbean city of Santa Marta, Drummond continued loading coal onto barges using cranes in spite of the January 1 deadline after which cranes were no longer allowed to prevent spilling.
In response, Santos tweeted his minister, ordering her to ” travel to Santa Marta, evaluate the direct loading situation, and do not hesitate to take [a] decision that protects [the] environment.”
Ministra Sarmiento: viaje a Santa Marta, evalúe la situación del cargue directo, y no dude en tomar decisión que proteja medio ambiente.
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) January 8, 2014
Drummond, Colombia’s largest coal miner, was forced to suspend export activities for three weeks in February last year after the spill for which it was later fined $3.5 million.