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Coal Ash Deposits in Peñuelas, Puerto Rico

Applied Energy Systems (AES), an electrical energy production company, is producing large amounts of toxic coal ashes. People complain and demonstrate.


Applied Energy Systems (AES), which is an electrical energy production company, signed a contract with the Electrical Energy Authority in Puerto Rico (AEE) known as the  Power Purchase and Operating Agreement, which states that the AEE will buy coal based electrical energy for 25 years since the beginning of their operation in Guayama, Puerto Rico in the year 2000.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Coal Ash Deposits in Peñuelas, Puerto Rico
Country:Puerto Rico
(municipality or city/town)Peñuelas
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Coal
Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

AES produces 453 MW.

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Level of Investment:650,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:2015
Company names or state enterprises:Applied Energy Systems (AES) from Puerto Rico - Company which produces de carbon ash residues and is in charge of its uses and waste managment.
EC Waste Inc (ECW) from Puerto Rico - Propiety of landfills El Coqui Landfill and Peñuelas Valley Landfill.
Relevant government actors:Government of Puerto Rico

Municipality of Peñuelas

Government of the Dominican Republic

EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)

JCA (Junta de Calidad Ambiental)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Movimiento en Contra las Cenizas de Carbón
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Court decision (undecided)
Application of existing regulations
Demonstrators have been repeatedly arrested.
Development of alternatives:House of Representatives of Puerto Rico entrusted the President of the Board of Enviormental Quality , and the secretary of the Department of Health that they should determine if the surrounding of both landfills used for the ash deposits are contaminated with heavy metals or any other harmful substance. These results will be used for other legal decisions and implementations.

Some politicians argue that the coal ashes should be exported again to the Dominican Republic.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The dumping is still being done, and the JCA has not studied the toxicity of these coal residues for it to be able to establish regulations for the management of these wastes.
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Supreme Court hearing of the use of Agremax in Peñuelas.
[click to view]

Negative report of the R.C. of the C. 877
[click to view]

EC Wastes and Activist, Public Nuisance court hearing.
[click to view]

Card with list of municipalities which used Agremax for construction.
[click to view]

Press Conference of the Board of Environmental Quality (JCA).
[click to view]

Epidemiological study of amount of citizens with illnesses in areas with Agremax.
[click to view]

Petitions by EC Waste and Applied Energy Systems to deposit carbon ashes in landfills in Puerto Rico.
[click to view]

Criteria For Clasification of Solid Waste Disposal Facilities and Practices.
[click to view]

List of places in and around Guayama which have deposits of the carbon ash wastes.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Supreme Court guarantees municipal ordnance.
[click to view]

Blockade at the entrance of the Peñuelas Valley Landfill.
[click to view]

El Nuevo Día. Crece la lucha contra las cenizas de carbón en Peñuelas. Esta tarde harán un reclamo al gobernador frente a La Fortaleza. 28 de noviembre de 2016
[click to view]

Measure to eradicate use of Agremax by Luis Berdiel Rivera and Jose Vargas Vidot.
[click to view]

AES reitera su intención de continuar disposición de cenizas en Peñuelas, Michelle Estrada Torres / [email protected], 12/22/2016
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Instagram of Herminio Rodriguez, photographer which made a gallery of photos with different artists and politicians with ashes on them to express repulsion on the carbon ash deposits.
[click to view]

Video of EC Waste which shows management of the carbon ashes.
[click to view]

Other documents

Police at Peñuelas Valley Landfill. Police present in manifestation at Peñuelas Valley Landfill.
[click to view]

Arrest in manifestation. Protestor being arrested at manifestation in front of Peñuelas Valley Landfill.
[click to view]

Prostesters at manifestation against ash deposites. Protester with a banner saying "Stop. No more ashes" with their faces painted like skulls.
[click to view]

[click to view]

Maria de Lourdes in the blockad at the PVL manifestation. Maria De Lourdes, candidate of governance, sitting in the blockade. She was arrested that day.
[click to view]

March against the carbon ash deposites. A march of protestors against the ash deposits in Peñuelas.
[click to view]

Protestors blocking the street to Peñuelas Valley Landfill. Protestors laying down on the street entrance to Peñuelas Valley Landfill to prevent the entrance of carbon ashes.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Edgardo G. Nieves Duprey, [email protected], University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus.
Last update12/04/2017