Manganese Atacama S.A. It is a Chilean company (owned by Holding Pacific Steel Company), dedicated to the exploration, development and exploitation of manganese manganese and production of manganese ferroalloys, its founding plant is located in the city of Coquimbo in the region of the same name , and operates since 1945. By 1998-99, the harmful effects on health was denounced. The manganese is a heavy metal (similar to lead) that causes irreversible damage (manganism) since it affects the central nervous system producing neurological, functional and structural damage .
The allegations of the community had been permanent, however, they were not heard by the regional authorities. After new complaints, they managed to the health service - Coquimbo to carry out health examinations and with it the certification of high levels of manganese contamination. The studies (carried out between 1998-99) applied to 183 inhabitants of the place indicate that about 17% have high manganese rates in the body, which could lead to health problems such as respiratory frames and manganism disease that affects the system nervous, causing neurological damage and headaches .
The recognition of contamination by the Regional Health Authority (04/23/01) Derivated in the Athorsement of a period of 90 days for the company to transfer or restructure the tasks that develops in the population and represent a direct danger for about 2,000 people. OLCA reports that after granted this period, the company's reaction and its workers was immediate, and filed an appeal for protection that was accepted by the Court of Appeals of La Serena (06/16/01) with what the order emanated of the health service remained without effect. Parallel, they began a strong lobby defending the industry as an important labor source for the local population .
The conflict regarding this company has to see not only with The pollution and the affectation of the health of the population, but with the measures taken by the industry to respond to pressures by the Government and environmental agencies. First of all, the subsidiary is required to develop a system to isolate the air environment all the contaminating productive process, otherwise, had to leave the dependencies and settle in another area outside the urban radius, through a closing plan that contemplates mitigation measures, a gradual production decrease in production and measures to eliminate waste generated during all years of operation. In 2001, the Supreme Court rejects the resource of protection and revokes the failure of the Court of Appeals of La Serena, which derives in that manganese Atacama paralyzes its work drastically and leaves more than 200 workers cessing .
The opinions about this measure are discussed since the company instead of developing the mitigation system that was being required, decides to withdraw without taking over waste and contaminants, as well nor, of the entire affected population. The Environmental Coordinator of the Region, which agreed to 12 environmental and social entities of Coquimbo, accuses the economic group to make use of the conflict to restructure its companies and reduce costs, within the framework of a reduction in holding costs .
Keywords: Manganese, Air Pollution, Health