Pollution of leather industry in Belém, Brazil

Traditional communities struggle against contamination from tanneries in Belem. Pollution of rivers and air, and health damage to the dwellers are the main concerns.


Description

The increasing leather industry in Brazil is killing the local environment. Workers in this industry are impacted by toxins and chemicals; waste disposals are rejected to the rivers and environment. China and India are world leaders in this industry, but in the past few decades, Brazil is increasing its production.

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Basic Data
NamePollution of leather industry in Belém, Brazil
CountryBrazil
ProvincePará
Site Icoaraci, Belém
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Manufacturing activities
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific CommoditiesIndustrial waste
Leather
Project Details and Actors
Project Details15.946 million square meters of leather were exported in April 2016, growth of 2.3% in comparison to 2015 ( Centre for the Brazilian Tanning Industry).

China and Hong Kong, Italy, US, Vietnam and Hungary are the main buyers of Brazilian leather.

Tanning one ton of hide typically results in 20 to 80 cubic meters of wastewater with Chromium concentrations around 250 mg/L and sulfide concentrations at roughly 500 mg/L
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population130,000
Start Date05/2005
Company Names or State EnterprisesFênix Curtidora Ltda from Brazil
Curtume Idea from Brazil
Curtume Couro Norte from Brazil
Relevant government actorsSecretaria de Estado Ciência Tecnologia Meio Ambiente (SECTAM) , Prefeitura Municipal de Belém (local government),Ministério Público do Estado (MPE), Brazilian Tanning Industries (CICB), Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade (MDIC),
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSupporters: Instituto de Pesquisas Científicas e Tecnológicas do Estado do Pará (IEPA), Centro de Perícias Científicas Renato Chaves,
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Other Health impacts
Potential: Deaths
OtherContamination by chrome from the tanneries
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Application of existing regulations
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The mobilization of the communities and the scientific studies concluded that there is an impact from tanneries on the environment and on the human health. However, the companies are still operating. The Executive Secretariat of Science, Technology and Environment (SECTAM) improved its regulations but this is not enough according to residents.
Sources and Materials
References

Geoelectric characterization of the tannery area located in the industrial district of Icoaraci, Belem-Para. Article in Revista Brasileira de Geofísica 24(4):467-481 · October 2006

IMPACTOS AMBIENTAIS GERADOS POR EFLUENTES DE CURTUME EM MEIO AQUÁTICO E NA SAÚDE HUMANA O CASO DE UMA INDÚSTRIA NO DISTRITO INDUSTRIAL DE ICORACI EM BELÉM DO PARÁ.
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Links

Icoaraci (rio Piraíba) - Laudo confirma dano ambiental
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Icoaraci sofre com odor de indústrias
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How Leather Is Slowly Killing the People and Places That Make It
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SECAM começa a monitorar curtumes
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Brazilian leather exports continue upward trajectory
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Icoaraci discute questões ambientais
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Mapa da Injustiça Ambiental da FIOCRUZ
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How Leather Is Slowly Killing the People and Places That Make It
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Media Links

Curtume estaria causando poluição ambiental e riscos à vida dos moradores de Icoaraci
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Other Documents

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Meta Information
ContributorENVJustice Project (G.N)
Last update28/10/2016
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