The headlines may be amusing, “Costa Rica hotel Allegro Poopagayo,” [Costa Rica holiday Blog] or “Another Pacific Poop Problem” [Tico Times], but the issue at hand is quite serious and sends a bad message to hundreds of tourists in the area.
Costa Rica News — Allegro Papagayo Closed for Lack of Waste Control Facilities
The Hotel Allegro Papagayo, located on the famous Ecodesarrollo Papagayo land concession, will be completely shut down at the peak of high season for its continued negligence in dealing with the excessive amount of sewage generated on the site.
The Ministry of Health declared that the hotel must clear out all of its guests within the next (undetermined)couple of days and it cannot receive any new guests or reservations until it corrects its problem. As of yesterday, the hotel was reported to at 98% capacity with some 588 guests. The Costa Rican Tourism Institute will assist them in finding space in other hotels throughout the area.
Even as the Health officials were arriving to issue the closure to the Hotel, sewage trucks could be seen leaving the property, and guests were seen arriving from the Liberia International Airport. It is still unclear if the evacuation has begun.
The hotel will be closed until they are able to construct a new sewage treatment plant that is adequate for the large number of guests that stay at the hotel. The plant will then be subject to inspections before they are granted a permit to reopen.
The closure has been a long time coming according to many locals. The residents of Guanacaste have fought against the hotel for several forms of contamination related to the disposal of waste products.
The problem began with the increase in size of the hotel and quantity of tourists arriving. The original treatment plants were no longer sufficient. A sanitary order was issued when waste waters were found emptying out into an estuary near Playa Manzanillo from hotel facilities over 10 months ago. The hotel responded that they did not foresee such an increase in visitors, and would start building a new treatment plant to resolve the problem. That, however, was never accomplished.
As originally reported by Costa Rica Pages, the hotel then started transporting the sewage in upwards of 100 trucks to the community of El Gallo just north of Liberia, to outdated waste tanks that were only fit to be receiving one truck load a day. The community filed an official complaint to the Municipality of Liberia, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Health.
The problem was confirmed by the Municipality in April of 2007, when they discovered that of five receptacle tanks, four were already filled and at the point of collapsing in case of heavy rains. However, the trucks continued to roll in. Community members ordered a formal protest by blocking the sewage trucks, who later found new destinations for the waste on a farm near the Caña River.
Increased media coverage lead to the Ministry of Health reinspecting the hotel. More illegal pipes were found flushing sewage into nearby water sources, forcing the Ministry to take action.
This is the first closure of a major hotel in the area due to contamination to the environment. However, it will surely leave a lasting impression on guests who have to alter their vacation plans because of the lack of sanitary precautions taken by the hotel. The news of this “crappy situation” is likely to spread quite rapidly and may lead to more sewage problems being discovered in other areas of the country.
Photo courtesy of Diario Extra
|Written by Claire Saylor|
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Filed under: Costa Rica News on February 6th, 2008