“The once-mighty PDVSA is polluting waterways and farmland, unable to clean up its messes after years of neglect, scant investment and corruption scandals.”
The spills are conspicuous signs of what has gone so horribly wrong at once-mighty PDVSA. The state-owned company doesn’t publish statistics, but environmentalists, analysts and workers keep seemingly endless lists of examples of wayward crude—unleashed by busted valves, ripped gaskets, cracked pipes and on and on—that they say has polluted waterways and farmland and probably has seeped into aquifers.
PDVSA’s cleanup policy is, on paper, strict, because “if spills aren’t quickly attended to, they become environmental liabilities,” said Carmen Infante, a Caracas-based industry consultant. But resources are spread so thin that responses are rarely swift or comprehensive; trunks of nance trees near the three tanks in Anzoategui state are buried in crude more than 10 months after the leak was discovered.
According to workers in the field, many of the services contractors that specialize in sponging up spills, with trucks equipped with giant vacuums, have gone out of business because they’ve had such trouble getting paid by PDVSA.
As I’ve said elsewhere: If you want to protect the environment, you’d better embrace free-market capitalism.