Puerto Rico’s infrastructure faces serious threat due to climate crisis

Near the island's coasts there are seven electricity generating plants, 154 miles of main roads, seven airports, 15 hospitals, 12 ports, and 121 hotels. (Image capture via @AeropuertoSJU)

By Mivette Vega

February 15, 2024

Some of these structures are already suffering from the impact of climate change, as is the case at the Luis Muñoz Marín Airport.

Key infrastructure for Puerto Rico’s basic services is at greater risk of being affected by climate change, according to the Mitigation, Adaptation and Resilience Plan Against Climate Change (PMARCC by its Spanish initials).

Near the island’s coasts there are seven electricity generating plants, 154 miles of main roads, seven airports, 15 hospitals, 12 ports, and 121 hotels. These structures would be the most impacted by the rise in sea level, the greatest effect that climate change would have on Puerto Rico, according to the report,

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Some of these structures are already suffering from the impact of climate change, as is the case at the Luis Muñoz Marín Airport, the main airport in the island, which is experiencing flooding at some of its facilities. This has caused experts to evaluate the possibility of moving air activity to the Rafael Hernández International Airport, in the municipality of Aguadilla, which would represent a great impact on the northeastern population of the island, because Aguadilla is three hours away from San Juan.

The plan foresees that in an extreme scenario, sea levels could rise by five feet by 2050, which would make the airport’s runways unusable.

The plan, which was released last September by the Committee of Experts and Advisors on Climate Change (CEACC), evaluates the options of adaptation, relocation or mitigation of risks that would have to be taken for these structures in the long term.

The president of the College of Engineers and Surveyors, Faustino González Quiles, told El Nuevo Día that each case is different. He said that there are many measures that can be resolved with mitigation, but others are just as expensive as relocating or redistributing resources.

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“You can relocate a plant, but you can also redistribute the amount of matter that plant processes among others that do not have major problems,” González said.

González has also warned that these plans will cost millions.

 

Author

  • Mivette Vega

    Mivette Vega is a seasoned journalist and multimedia reporter whose stories center the Latino community. She is passionate about justice, equality, environmental matters, and animals. She is a Salvadorrican—Salvadorian that grew up in Puerto Rico—that has lived in San Juan, Venice, Italy, and Miami.

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