Coca-Cola Femsa Faces US$ 111,000 Fine over Contamination in Bogota

Coca-Cola FEMSA logo and Panamco plant in Colombia. Photo.

(Photo: To the right, the Coca-Cola plant accused of spilling in the Bogota sewage system. El Tiempo newspaper.) Industria Nacional de Gaseosas, a subsidiary of the biggest bottler of Coca-Cola trademark beverages in Latin America (Coca-Cola FEMSA), has been fined with a US$111,000 bill by the Bogota District Environmental Office for illegal spilling of industrial waste in Colombia's capital sewage system and wetlands.

In an official communication, the chief of the Office -Juan Nieto Escalante-, said: "we are not going to be flexible with those responsible for environmental damages to the capital. By paying this disciplinary measure Coca-Cola will honor its obligations and will accept the current environmental norms."

Via Minutouno.Coca-Cola Femsa's Investigation in Bogota

According to the official communication from Bogota's Environmental Office (SDA, for its Spanish abbreviation), the problems with Industria Nacional de Gaseosas began in 2006, when the company's spilling permit for its plant located in Fontabon expired.

After the company requested a new permit, Colombia's Sewage System administrator presented a technical report which recommended the SDA not to concede it. The report said the company was spilling industrial waste in the sewage, which flowed into the Capellania wetland.

In May 2007 the SDA declared there were new key issues to evaluate the permit, and its Water Control and Quality Division registered the plant. It was then proved that the company's venue had five spilling points, four of them never declared and some of them discharging industrial waste without treatment.

Even though the company closed the illegal spilling points in January, which were redirected towards a water treatment plant, the SDA claimed this was done after a longer period of time than the established and that environmental damage had already been done, and therefore announced the fine.

According to El Tiempo, Coca-Cola FEMSA did not officially respond to this accusation.

Coca-Cola FEMSA in Colombia

FEMSA is the largest beverage company in Mexico and Latin America, and its division Coca-Cola FEMSA is the world's second largest bottler and distributer of Coca Cola products (Wikipedia on FEMSA).

It entered Colombia in 2003, when it acquired Panambuco, until then the largest Coca Cola franchise in Latin America. In this country, Coca-Cola FEMSA now controls Industria Nacional de Gaseosas (receiver of the fine) and its bottlers Embotelladora de Santander, Embotelladora Roman, and Embotelladora del Hula.

Official Femsa website
Coca-Cola FEMSA website

Sources for the story:
Official communicate by Bogota District Environmental Secretariat (in Spanish)
Coca-Cola fined over illegal spilling to sewage system in Bogota (El tiempo, in Spanish)
Coca Cola has to pay 111 thousand dollars bill over contamination (Minutouno, in Spanish)
More on the Coca-Cola brand relationship with the environment in TreeHugger:
Coca-Cola to Step Up Recycling, Improve Image
Coca-Cola To Spend $3 Million For Green Upgrades
Coca Cola & UPS Canada Try to Clean Up Their Truck Fleets

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