Costa Rica

Spill Notification Point

Ministerio de Obras Públicas Y Transportes (MOPT)
División Marítima-Portuaria
PO Box 10176-1000 San José

Tel: +506 2233 5022
Fax: +506 2223 2697

Alternatively, spills on the Caribbean coast could be reported to:

Junta Administrativa de Portuaria y de Desarollo Económico de la Vertiente Atlántica (JAPDEVA)
Gerencia Portuaria
Departamento Marino
Puerto Limón, Costa Rica
PO Box 1320

Tel: +506 2758 0567 or +506 2798 4661

Fax: +506 2799 0156

Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo RECOPE
Terminal Petrolera
Puerto Limón, Costa Rica
PO Box 1315

Tel: +506 2795 0450 or +506 2798 4661

Fax: +506 2795 1638

Spills on the Pacific Coast could be reported to:

Instituto Costarricense de Puertos del Pacifico (INCOP)

Competent National Authority

For Oil:

Contact details as above.

For HNS:

Ministerio de Salud (Ministry of Health)
Dpt. Gestion de Riesgo

Tel: +506 2222 1748

Fax: +506 2255 2636

Response Arrangements

The Costa Rican government is characterised by Divisiones Sectoriales - committees dedicated to a specific purpose and consisting of representatives from all the ministries with an interest. The lead agency provides the chairman. The Junta Administrativa de Portuaria y de Desarollo Económico de la Vertiente Atlántica (JAPDEVA) is an example of this type of organisation, chaired by a representative of the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transporte - MOPT (Ministry of Public Works and Transport). The jurisdiction of JAPDEVA covers the Atlantic province including the port of Limón. As the lead agency, MOPT is under some obligation to respond to oil spills but there is no responsibility in law and MOPT have no resources to deploy during an incident.

In practice it is expected that the Guardia Civil would provide the surveillance and communications facilities required in an oil spill clean-up operation. Costa Rica has no military forces in the conventional sense, but the Guardia Civil performs policing and border patrol duties.

A conservation group known as ASCONA (Asociacion Costaricense para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza) is actively involved in the environmental aspects of natural resource management.  ASCONA has won the respect of government in past controversies involving environmental management issues and the control of pollution.

Response Policy

There is no formal response policy although protection of the many sensitive areas would be a priority, particularly nesting sites used by several species of turtle. There is no formal policy on dispersant  usage  but  each  incident  would  be  judged  on  its  merits,  and  on  the  scientific considerations provided by biologists at the University of Costa Rica in San Jose. Dispersant spraying would almost certainly be prohibited close to the Cahuita coral reef reserve, managed by the National Parks Service.

Organised manpower exists for manual clean-up of beaches but no specialised equipment is available and on many parts of the coastline stranded oil would be left to degrade by natural processes.


Government & Private

Aircraft and two coast guard patrol vessels could be used in the event of a spill affecting Costa Rican waters. Vacuum trucks, launches and eight to ten 350 bbl slop barges used in the banana trade could be released for oil spill clean-up work. The refinery at the port of Moin (Refinadora Costaricense de Petroleo SA - RECOPE) holds 600 metres of 18 inch boom and one rope mop skimmer, with another on order. There is also a Marine Police post on the refinery premises with about 40 personnel and several patrol vessels assigned to it. RECOPE is a member of ARPEL, a reciprocal agreement between Latin American oil companies, based in Montevideo, and can call upon this organisation and its member companies for advice and resources.  It is also an associate member of Clean Caribbean & Americas (CCA), a tier 3 response centre based in Florida.

Previous Spill Experience

There have been no major spills in Costa Rican waters.

Hazardous & Noxious Substances

The Ministerio de Salud and Comisión Nacional de Emergencias y Desastres are the relevant authorities for dealing with spills of HNS.  It is understood that to date no specific response arrangements are in place in case of an HNS spill. Such an incident would be dealt with in a similar manner as an oil spill incident.   MOPT, RECOPE, JAPDEVA and INCOP are capable of providing modelling support. 


Prevention & Safety

MARPOL Annexes

Spill Response



'69 '76 '92 '92Fund

* not yet in force  Steps are being made towards ratification of CLC 92 & Fund 92 

Regional & Bilateral Agreements

  • Cartagena Convention (with states of the Wider Caribbean Region).

Date of issue: April 2010

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