Clandestine oil refinery shut down Print E-mail
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Thursday, 06 October 2011 00:00

Oil refineryThe Department of Environment (DOE) has seen it fit to bring criminal charges against 55 year-old Cuban Roberto Igarza Velazquez, a mechanic who set up a rustic, lo-tech oil refinery in Western Belize. It is suspected that this refinery has been operating for about a year.

The DOE believes that Velazquez was being backed by a behind-the-scenes financier who provided an investment in equipment upwards of $50,000.

Police officers searched the area around north of Belize Christian Academy in Belmopan, and they found a distillery consisting of metallic bosser storage, rotoplas tanks, pipes and hoses.  Heavy duty machines such as bulldozers, Tractors and Cranes were also found in the area.

They also found a full 55 gallon drum of diesel, which was refined without any kind of permit or clearance. Investigations into the matter have revealed that the refinery site could produce 55 gallons of diesel every 3 days.
Velazquez has been receiving crude oil from a source at Belize Natural Energy, which he has been refining. BNE has since denied having any knowledge of who may have been supplying him.

It is estimated that the DOE will have to spend somewhere between fifty and one hundred thousand dollars to deal with the manufacturing waste from the refinery.

Velazquez faces environmentally related charges and offenses. He is also facing immigration related charges. The Cuban national entered Belize 3 years ago on a 6-months visa. He is also in possession of an apparently fraudulent US residency card.