A photograph of a water flow in a poorly-lit cave with geological features, accentuated by artificial lighting from the viewpoint, with timestamp and coordinates overlayed on the image.

Maya Train Project Causes Cenote Contamination Scare

The "Save Me from the Train" group has once again raised concerns about the environmental impact of the Maya Train project. This time, they have discovered a white, oily substance in a cenote (natural sinkhole) located beneath the train tracks.

Previously, environmental activist Elias Siebenborn had reported a cement leakage from the Maya Train construction site near the village of Akumal, located directly under the tracks. Now, a video from the group suggests that a cenote in the same area or nearby is contaminated with the oily substance.

Siebenborn described the situation: "All of the cenotes I saw today (Friday, July 5) had a lot of water, usually a chocolate color, but that oily substance was only there beneath the tracks… next time we come back it will be gone because… it will soon be in the reef."

He further explained that this area is typically dry, but a cement spill is noticeable. "Now, the water level has risen due to the hurricane and it's not only murky – which would be normal due to the weather conditions, and I saw it that day – but it also has that white, oily layer on top."

The contaminated cenote is located beneath the Southeastern railway, in a cave named U’uc cheen. In May, the Federal Prosecutor for Environmental Protection (Profepa) confirmed a cement spill in the cave systems of "Garra de Jaguar", "Manitas", "Ixtun", "Openheimmer" and "Ocho Balas". This was due to the construction of the elevated viaduct for the Maya Train's South 5 Section.

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The cement leaked into the aquifer and solidified, according to a report from the Federal agency to the First District Court of Merida, Yucatan. This was part of a legal claim made by Judge Adrian Fernando Novelo, following a protective writ filed by citizens of Playa del Carmen.