Mexico Pipeline Thieves Cause Spill

Monday, February 14, 2011 @ 01:02 PM gHale

Thieves tapping into a Mexican fuel pipeline triggered a large diesel fuel spill south of Tijuana in Mexico’s Baja California, officials said.

“There cannot be less than 50,000 liters (13,000 gallons) spilled,” said one official who requested anonymity because he was not the one supposed to comment on the spill.

Witnesses saw a three-foot stream of fuel flowing on hilly ranch land a few miles from Rosarito.

Police prevented people from approaching the pipeline but bulldozers worked quickly to build huge piles of earth to contain and absorb the flow of fuel. The odor of petroleum was extremely intense.

Gangs of fuel thieves regularly tap into Pemex pipelines to steal gasoline, diesel fuel and even crude oil.

The lucrative trade has attracted Mexico’s brutal drug cartels, which earn money protecting fuel thieves and helping them smuggle oil out of the country.

State oil monopoly Pemex said in a press release it was responding to the spill and that it posed no risk to bodies of waters or urban areas.

The 10-inch (25-centimeter) diameter pipeline carries fuel from a Pemex terminal in Rosarito to the city of Mexicali.

Pemex officials said they have cut the amount of stolen oil through better security monitoring of its pipeline network even though the number of illegal connections continues to jump.

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