CHILE SUES PULP MILL COMPANY FOR MASS DIE-OFF OF BLACK-NECKED SWANS AND CONTAMINATION OF SANCTUARY.
The Chilean government has decided to sue a cellulose pulping company for the large number of deaths of black-necked swans in a nearby sanctuary that had been home to South America's largest population of the species. This is the government's first environmental-damage lawsuit against a private corporation in Chilean history, although activists accuse Chile's federal environmental agency of having been far too lenient with the company by allowing the plant to operate when it was in violation of many regulations. Regionally, the highly profitable cellulose industry is implicated im·pli·cate
tr.v. im·pli·cat·ed, im·pli·cat·ing, im·pli·cates
1. To involve or connect intimately or incriminatingly: evidence that implicates others in the plot.
2. in contaminating a number of sites throughout the Southern Cone The term Southern Cone (Spanish: Cono Sur, Portuguese: Cone Sul) refers to a geographic region composed of the southernmost areas of South America, below the Tropic of Capricorn. .
Suit demands reparations reparations, payments or other compensation offered as an indemnity for loss or damage. Although the term is used to cover payments made to Holocaust survivors and to Japanese Americans interned during World War II in so-called relocation camps (and used as well to after swan population dwindles
The Consejo de Defensa del Estado (CDE (1) (Computer Desktop Encyclopedia) What you are reading at this very moment. See About this product.
(2) (Common Desktop Environment) A user interface for desktop computing from The Open Group. ) filed suit in the Appeals Court of Valdivia--790 km south of Santiago--against Celulosa Arauco y Constitucion (Celco), part of the Angelini Group, Chile's second-largest business conglomerate, belonging to Anacleto Angelini Anacleto Angelini Fabbri (January 17 1914 – August 28 2007) was an Italian born, Chilean businessman. At the time of his death, he was South America's wealthiest person, with an estimated net worth of USD $6 billion. . The suit was filed after the Universidad Austral aus·tral
Of, relating to, or coming from the south.
[Latin austrlis, from auster, austr-, south. of Valdivia released a long-awaited report on April 18 saying Celco was responsible for major environmental damage in the Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary (Spanish: Santuario de la naturaleza Carlos Anwandter) is protected wetland in Cruces River about 15 km north of Valdivia, Chile. The sanctuary is named after the german politician Carl Andwanter who settled in Valdivia during the 1850s. .
The Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary, named after German scientist and philanthropist Karl Anwandter, was placed on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance This is the list of wetlands of international importance as defined by the Ramsar Convention for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands. For complete list see here. Site listing by country
These data have been taken from the Ramsar Sites Database. in 1981. The Ramsar Convention The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, i.e. to stem the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands now and in the future, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, , signed in the Iranian city of that name in 1971, is an international treaty aimed at preserving and ensuring the sustainable use Sustainable use is the use of resources at a rate which will meet the needs of the present without impairing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The concept was notably put forth by the Brundtland Commission in 1987. See also
The Celco plant, which began to operate in February 2004, dumps its industrial waste into the Rio Cruces cru·ces
A plural of crux. about 15 km before it runs into the nature sanctuary. The sanctuary hosted Latin America's largest population of black-necked swans (Cygnus malencoryphus), about 6,000. There are now only an estimated 300 swans remaining in the reserve, after several hundred died and the others subsequently migrated to other rivers and lakes in southern Chile Southern Chile is one of the five natural regions of Chile defined by the CONAMA. Southern Chile stretches from below the Río Bío-Bío at about 38° south latitude to below Isla de Chiloé at about 43.4° south latitude. .
Some of the swans died of poisoning from toxic-chemical compounds, while others starved to death because of the disappearance of their main food source, a water weed known as luchecillo (Egeria densa), killed off by the toxic waste toxic waste is waste material, often in chemical form, that can cause death or injury to living creatures. It usually is the product of industry or commerce, but comes also from residential use, agriculture, the military, medical facilities, radioactive sources, and dumped by the pulp mill A pulp mill is a manufacturing facility that converts wood chips or other plant fiber source into a thick fiber board which can be shipped to a paper mill for further processing. into the Rio Cruces, according to the Universidad Austral report.
The Rio Cruces reserve was a key reproductive site for the swans, with 4,870 hectares where 2,000 ha of luchecillo, an introduced plant, grew. Now there are only a few patches of the weed.
Upriver about 32 km, the Celco plant in San Jose de la Mariquina altered the composition of the water, according to the report. The emissions of the plant, although treated, increased the presence of heavy metals heavy metals,
n.pl metallic compounds, such as aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, and nickel. Exposure to these metals has been linked to immune, kidney, and neurotic disorders. like iron, manganese, zinc, and copper, along with other chemical compounds, in the water.
Celco has disputed the scientific legitimacy of the report in the media and courts.
Another report is being prepared by a delegation of experts from the Ramsar Convention who visited the sanctuary in March; it is expected to be released in May.
In the meantime Adv. 1. in the meantime - during the intervening time; "meanwhile I will not think about the problem"; "meantime he was attentive to his other interests"; "in the meantime the police were notified"
meantime, meanwhile , the Comision Regional del Medioambiente (COREMA), which authorized building the plant in 1997, received a new assessment report that points to eight irregularities at the Celco plant and calls for a follow-up inspection in 10 days.
The Valdivia Appeals Court had ordered the closure of the mill on April 19--the day after the release of the university study--in response to an appeal filed in late 2004 by environmental groups.
The Angelini Group seeks to minimize its responsibility by pointing to environmental officials who authorized the plant opening during the administration of former President Eduardo Frei (1994-2000), say legal and environmental specialists. Jose Araya, president of the Valdivia-based citizens group Action for the Swans, and attorney Fernando Dougnac of the nongovernmental environmental watchdog Fiscalia del Medio Ambiente, say that the only way to ensure the recovery of the nature sanctuary and the protection of nearby communities is by permanently shutting down the pulp mill.
"The amount of pollution created by this plant is so extreme that it is not only doing significant harm to the birds in the sanctuary and elsewhere on the Rio Cruces but is also hurting other economic activities, like tourism, cattle farming, and agriculture, as well as endangering the health of the local population," said Araya.
Dougnac recalled that the authorities were warned in 1996 of the environmental impact that the pulp mill would have, but COREMA gave little importance to these concerns, placing priority instead on the income and employment that would be generated by the US$1.2 billion Celco invested in the project.
A Corte Suprema hearing ruled in a three-to-two vote that COREMA's authorization for the pulp mill was illegal, but it did not revoke the permit, choosing instead to follow the "mistaken doctrine" of leaving environmental problems in the hands of the government, added Dougnac.
"It must not be forgotten that Frei issued instructions to the Comision Nacional del Medioambiente (CONAMA CONAMA Comision Nacional del Medio Ambiente (Chilean National Commission for the Environment) ) stating that no investment projects should be rejected for environmental reasons and that the role of this agency was to improve these initiatives," he said.
Dougnac criticizes government authorities for having yielded to the economic power of the Angelini Group. "Without a doubt, there was absolutely guilty negligence on the part of the government authorities, who knew perfectly well what the effects of the plant would be, not only on the wetlands, but on the health of the human population as well," he said.
Dougnac says Celco had been producing a higher volume of pulp than authorized, had hidden information from inspection and control agencies, and "lied to the public by claiming that it was living up to all environmental standards."
Pulp mills make big forestry profits, big mess
The cellulose industry is one of Chile's top earners of foreign exchange, surpassed only by the copper-mining industry. Pulp mills play an important role in forestry around the region as well, being the most profitable sector of forestry. But it is also implicated in a number of contaminated contaminated,
v 1. made radioactive by the addition of small quantities of radioactive material.
2. made contaminated by adding infective or radiographic materials.
3. an infective surface or object. riparian riparian adj. referring to the banks of a river or stream. (See: riparian rights) sites in Brazil and Uruguay, in addition to Chile.
Brazil's paper and pulp industry brought in US$8.5 billion in 2004 and involves 220 companies that directly employ 100,000 workers.
Most of the world's paper is made from wood pulp. The species of trees most commonly used to produce pulp, or cellulose, in Latin America are fast-growing eucalyptus and pine, which are often planted in areas that once held native forests. Eucalyptus and pine plantations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay represent 40% of the 10 million hectares of rapid-growth tree plantations worldwide.
Fast-wood plantations now cover more than 600,000 ha in Uruguay, or 4% of the country's productive land. The native temperate forests cover 810,000 ha.
Uruguay's forestry exports came to US$86.5 million in 2002, with US$43 million representing raw wood, according to the national Forestry Directorate. The country's overall foreign sales that year reached US$2.2 billion dollars.
There is a building movement in Uruguay opposed to the planned installation of two pulp mills in the western department of Rio Negro, on the Rio Uruguay along the border with Argentina. The plants are to be built by the Finnish firm Botnia, at a cost of US$1.1 billion, and a Spanish company, Ence, which plans to invest US$500 million.
The Celco plant near Valdivia, Chile, employs 300 workers and indirectly generates roughly 4,000 jobs, according to company sources. Economic analysts estimate that a three-month closure would result in US$40 million in losses for Celco, and this figure would rise to US$150 million if the plant were shut down for a year. Permanent closure could result in US$1 billion in losses for the Angelini Group.
Although the swans have become the high-profile symbol of the Rio Cruces disaster, activists point to the damages that the Valdivia plant has caused other species, as well as local residents.
"We have reports that the polluted water and gas and liquid emissions have affected people's health, with a rise in health problems including gastric and bronchial bronchial /bron·chi·al/ (brong´ke-al) pertaining to or affecting one or more bronchi.
Relating to the bronchi, the bronchial tubes, or the bronchioles. ailments," says Adriana Hoffman, a biologist who headed CONAMA in 2000 and 2001. "And a doctor who was carrying out a campaign to raise awareness not only about the swans but also about the health risks posed by the pulp mill died late last year when his lung cancer lung cancer, cancer that originates in the tissues of the lungs. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States in both men and women. Like other cancers, lung cancer occurs after repeated insults to the genetic material of the cell. took a turn for the worse because of the plant's emissions."
A somewhat similar case occurred in Minas Gerais, in southern Brazil, where a small pulp mill dumped its waste into a river, killing off fish. But according to Melquiades Spinola at the Centre of Studies and Research for the Development of the Extreme South, the worst impacts of the pulp industry are economic and social.
The main damage caused by the four paper and pulp factories operating in the southern part of the state of Bahia is unemployment, while "there are 12,000 families of [landless land·less
Owning or having no land.
Adj. 1. ] campesinos living in camps along the roadsides," Spinola said.
Barrichelo said Veracel, a Brazilian-Swedish-Finnish company installed in 1992, promised to generate 10,000 direct and indirect jobs but has only hired 300 workers at the plant and another 1,000 on the tree plantations.
Accusations that the Frei government put a higher priority on continued economic growth than on environmental integrity haunt CONAMA and the Chilean government. As Chile sought inclusion in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), international organization that came into being in 1961. It superseded the Organization for European Economic Cooperation, which had been founded in 1948 to coordinate the Marshall Plan for European (OECD OECD: see Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. ), also known as the rich countries club, its poor record of environmental enforcement has played a role in frustrating Chilean efforts to join.
There are twelve regional commissions (COREMA I-XII) that administer CONAMA authority throughout Chile. CONAMA is an office underneath the Presidential Secratariat. Environmentalists say that the government favors private investment and economic growth over ecosystem protection, while OECD experts have suggested that Chile create an environment ministry to give such issues higher status.
With the lawsuit against Celco, however, the government appears to be tightening the screws on environmental enforcement. Other recent measures include a Jan. 11 order by COREMA of the region of Bio-Bio to suspend construction of another cellulose plant in Itata, 480 km south of Santiago, because of the failure to meet environmental standards.
Restoration of sanctuary waters could be costly
Beyond getting compensation from Celco or better environmental enforcement from CONAMA is the question of how to undo the damage done to the Anwandter Sanctuary. Mario Pino, a geologist at the Universidad Austral, says restoration would be costly and could take a long time. In Holland, authorities have dragged rivers to remove heavy metals at a cost of tens of millions of dollars, says Pino.
Andres Munoz and Claudia Sepulveda at the private, nonprofit Centro de Estudios Agrarios y Ambientales agree with Pino that it is necessary to remove contaminated sediments, replace them with others from wet-soil areas, stop contaminated effluent, and repopulate the sanctuary's species. But they point to an English lake where this was done at a cost of US$80 million per ha, a high cost for Chile.
Other experts like Gonzalo Medina of the Asociacion de Medicos Veterinarios de Fauna Silvestre de Chile think the swan habitat is recoverable, but it could take twenty years TWENTY YEARS. The lapse of twenty years raises a presumption of certain facts, and after such a time, the party against whom the presumption has been raised, will be required to prove a negative to establish his rights.
2. for the riparian zone to return to normal. Among other measures like sediment dragging and cutting contaminant contaminant /con·tam·i·nant/ (kon-tam´in-int) something that causes contamination.
something that causes contamination. flows, he suggests repopulating luchecillo plants. That way, he says, the swans, who have memories of the place, can return and reconstruct their nesting grounds. [Sources: BBC BBC
in full British Broadcasting Corp.
Publicly financed broadcasting system in Britain. A private company at its founding in 1922, it was replaced by a public corporation under royal charter in 1927. News, 03/29/05; www.conama.cl; El Mercurio (Chile), 12/10/04, 01/20/05, 02/03/05, 02/17/05, 03/09/05, 03/14/05, 03/24/05, 04/18/05, 04/21/05, 04/22/05, 04/28/05; Inter Press Service Inter Press Service (abbreviated: IPS) is a global news agency. Its main focus is the production of independent news and analysis about events and processes affecting economic, social and political development. , 12/10/04, 01/31/05, 02/18/05, 02/21/05, 03/10/05, 04/13/05, 04/25/05, 04/29/05]