Costa Rica has declared an emergency zone after a barge carrying 180 tons of ammonium nitrate sank off the country’s Pacific coast near the town of Puntarenas.
Ammonium nitrate is used in fertilizers and explosives.
The emergency zone extends along about 100 km (60 miles of coast), and the government has asked people to avoid swimming and fishing, the BBC reported.
However, a government spokesman said only small traces of the chemical had been found in the water, with Costa Rica’s Emergency Commission adding that bathing was considered safe, but fishing would be banned for a further 72 hours.
Spokesman Reinaldo Carballo said the emergency alert was a preventive measure against the potentially harmful effects of ammonium nitrate on human health, the BBC reported.
Carballo added that officials hoped the chemical, which is highly soluble, had dissolved and been taken out to sea by the tide.
Government officials said an investigation into who was responsible for the ship sinking would take place as soon as possible.
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