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Polo Petroquímico de Dock Sud en “Villa Inflamable”, Argentina.


Description

“Villa Inflamable” or “Flammable” is located in the district of Avellaneda, right on the southeastern border of the city of Buenos Aires, adjacent to one of the largest petrochemical compounds in the country: Polo Petroquímico y Puerto Dock Sud. The Shell-Capsa refinery is the most important plant in that area, but the complex includes another refinery, Dapsa; three oil and derivatives storage plants (Petrobras, YPF and Petrolera Cono Sur); storage plants for chemical products (Tagsa, Antívari and Solvay Indupa, among others); a chemical products factory, Meranol; a dock for containers, Exolgan, and the Central Dock Sud thermoelectric power plant. The Shell Oil refinery opened here in 1931. Since then, other companies have moved into the compound.

The name “Flammable” or "Villa Inflamable" date from 1984, there was a fire in the Perito Moreno, an oil ship that was harbored in a nearby canal. The ship exploded and produced what one elderly resident noted as the “highest flames I’ve ever seen.” In this neighborhood, around 6000 people are exposed to industrial pollution in precarious homes built on top of soil contaminated with toxic waste. Specifically, the children suffer from lead poisoning. According to a study supported by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2001, 50 percent of the children (7 to 11 years old) in “Villa Inflamable” have traces of lead in their blood and 10 percent with chlorine in their urine. Lead poisoning in children is defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as a blood lead level of greater than 10 micrograms (µg) per decilitre of blood. Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities and other chronic health problems, such as stunted growth, hyperactivity, and impaired hearing.

In July 2004 a group of residents living in “Villa Inflamble” filed a lawsuit against the Argentinian Government, Government of the city of Buenos Aires, and 44 businesses for damages to their health suffered as a result of the pollution. In 2008, the Supreme Court ordered the Matanza-Riachuelo Basin Authority (ACUMAR) to clean up the area. In 2011, ACUMAR established an integral environmental clean-up plan. The plan, whose goals include sustainable development, involves the reconversion of factories, the clean-up of rivers and riverbanks, garbage collection and treatment, water treatment and drainage works, and slum redevelopment or relocation. But this clean-up is slowly done and no visible results are seen up to now.

The project covers a total of 1,600 projects to be completed by 2024, including the construction of 1,900 housing units, with a total investment of four billion dollars. However, relocation seems to be the only alternative: "According to the National Children’s Defence Office, for Villa Inflamable “there is no remedy possible.” What is needed is to relocate the families". The air, the water, and the soil are polluted. 

Women as “mothers” have an active role in this, they are the ones who typically mobilize, calling lawyers to make appointments and who travel to government offices to demand aid. Women also follow the news about possible relocation and compensation more closely. 

This case of environmental justice became famous after the study of Javier Auyero (scholar living in the US) and Deborah Swistun (an anthropologist, resident of Flammable) a in which they introduce the concept of “Environmental Suffering” that they defined as a "particular form of social suffering caused by the concrete polluting actions of specific actors and on the factors that mold the experience of this suffering" (Auyero and Swistun, 2009: 17) This specific case has not very visible mobilizations, however people is waiting to both compensation for damages and relocation, during the “long waiting” they still been affected by their toxic environment.

Basic Data

NamePolo Petroquímico de Dock Sud en “Villa Inflamable”, Argentina.
CountryArgentina
ProvinceBuenos Aires
SiteAvellaneda
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Specific CommoditiesWater
Electricity
Crude oil
Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsLa refinería Shell-Capsa es la planta más importante en esa zona, pero el complejo incluye otra refinería, Dapsa; tres plantas de almacenamiento de petróleo y derivados (Petrobras, YPF y Petrolera Cono Sur); plantas de almacenamiento de productos químicos (Tagsa, Antívari y Solvay Indupa, entre otras); una fábrica de productos químicos, Meranol; una dársena para contenedores, Exolgan, y la usina termoeléctrica Central Dock Sud.
Project Area (in hectares)380
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population6000
Start Date1984
Company Names or State EnterprisesShell Chemical Company
Petróleo Brasileiro S.A (PETROBRAS) from Brazil
Repsol YPF from Spain
Companias Asociadas Petroleras S.A (CAPSA ) from Argentina
ENEL Group (Enel) from Italy
Central Dock Sud from Argentina - Subsidiary of ENEL
Relevant government actorsAutoridad de la Cuenca Matanza-Riachuelo (ACUMAR); Secretaría de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sustentable (SayDS); Defensoría del Pueblo de Avellaneda; Corte Suprema de la Nación (CSJN);National Children’s Defence Office;
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSupporters: Sembrando Sueños (NGO); Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ); Greenpeace Argentina; Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA);

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
Women
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Objections to the EIA

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Fires
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Deaths, Infectious diseases
Potential: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents
OtherSpecific impact on children (lead contamination); poisoning from acid (vomiting and dizziness); hemorrhagic measles; loss of breathing capacity; anencephaly; diarrhea;
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
OtherSpecific impacts on women as "mothers" very concerned about their children.

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Migration/displacement
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Development of Alternatives-Dismantling the industrial complex.

-Recolation seems to be the only alternative: "According to the National Children’s Defence Office, for Villa Inflamable “there is no remedy possible.” What is needed is to relocate the 800 families"
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.All the industries at Polo Petroquímico de Dock Sud still ongoing and the people still suffering the environmental and health damages of the toxic pollution.

Sources and Materials

Legislations

Matanza Riachuelo lawsuit (re Argentina)
https://business-humanrights.org/en/matanza-riachuelo-lawsuit-re-argentina

References

Polo Petroquímico Dock Sud, la contaminación que no se ve. Reporte de Greenpeace
http://www.greenpeace.org/argentina/Global/argentina/graphics/2015/Riachuelo/Polo_Petroquimico_Dock_Sud_La_contaminacion_que_no_se_ve.pdf

BOOK. Auyero, Javier and Deborah Swistun (2009) Flammable: Environmental Suffering in an Argentine Shantytown. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Auyero, J. and Swistun, D. (2007) ‘Confused because Exposed: Towards an Ethnography of Environmental

Suffering’, Ethnography, 8(2): 123–44. DOI10.1177/1466138107078630

Links

Villa Inflamable: la eterna espera para huir de la contaminación
http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1769093-villa-inflamable

Villa Inflamable, una deuda argentina.
http://www.dw.com/es/villa-inflamable-una-deuda-argentina/av-37288998

La industria envenena a los vecinos de Villa Inflamable, el 'Chernóbyl argentino'
https://actualidad.rt.com/sociedad/view/90549-villa-riachuelo-argentina-contaminacion-salud

Chicos con plomo en sangre y desnutrición en Villa Inflamable
https://www.diariopopular.com.ar/sureno/chicos-plomo-sangre-y-desnutricion-villa-inflamable-n307747

ARGENTINA: A Flammable Neighbourhood
http://www.ipsnews.net/2006/09/argentina-a-flammable-neighbourhood/

Villa inflamable: “somos un barrio olvidado”
https://www.laizquierdadiario.com/Villa-inflamable-somos-un-barrio-olvidado

Una batalla diaria contra los efectos de la contaminación
http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1699306-una-batalla-diaria-contra-los-efectos-de-la-contaminacion

Other Documents

Skin disease at Villa Inflamable
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/441fd5e25503a641ebfee67e911040e2_article.jpg

https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/villainflamable.jpg

Nora Pavón and one of her daughters in the informal garbage dump behind their home. The swamp acts as a sewer in Villa Inflamable, in the suburb of Avellaneda on the south side of Buenos Aires. Source: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/21304417078_a8e740cd3d_o.jpg

Other CommentsEnvironmental Suffering is defined as a "particular form of social suffering caused by the concrete polluting actions of specific actors and on the factors that mold the experience of this suffering" (Auyero and Swistun,2009 :17)

Meta Information

ContributorGrettel Navas (ENVJustice Project)
Last update13/12/2017

Images

 

Skin disease at Villa Inflamable

 

Nora Pavón and one of her daughters in the informal garbage dump behind their home. The swamp acts as a sewer in Villa Inflamable, in the suburb of Avellaneda on the south side of Buenos Aires.

Source: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS