A person kayaking in a water-filled cave with stalactites and hanging roots


Scientists have long expressed concern over the potential hazards associated with construction on soluble rocks like limestone. This is the type of rock that forms the caves and cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula. It's also the location where the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is building one of its major projects, the Maya Train.

There are already sections of roads on the Yucatan Peninsula that have warped or sunk. The Maya Train project has not been immune to these issues, with a series of accidents already occurring. One such incident was a train derailment in March, which the government attributed to a loose clamp installed by contractors.

Experts warn that further damage to the limestone could lead to another, potentially fatal, accident. Emiliano Monroy-Ríos, a geologist at Northwestern University in the United States, who has studied the region, warns of the potential for an even greater disaster. If a freight train were to derail, it could result in an oil spill that would cause irreversible damage to the aquifer.

Despite the warnings, not everyone is against the Maya Train traversing this area. Some see it as an unparalleled economic opportunity, a means to uplift poor families…

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