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

Residents in "Villa Inflamable" are suffering the effects of living in a contaminated place; complaints about air, soil, and water pollution abound, but so do denial, confusion, and uncertainty about its extent and effects.


“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.

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Basic Data
NamePolo Petroquímico de Dock Sud en “Villa Inflamable”, Argentina.
ProvinceBuenos Aires
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 CommoditiesElectricity
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
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Objections to the EIA
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.
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
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

Matanza Riachuelo lawsuit (re Argentina)
[click to view]


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

Polo Petroquímico Dock Sud, la contaminación que no se ve. Reporte de Greenpeace
[click to view]

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

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


Villa Inflamable: la eterna espera para huir de la contaminación
[click to view]

Villa Inflamable, una deuda argentina.
[click to view]

La industria envenena a los vecinos de Villa Inflamable, el 'Chernóbyl argentino'
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Chicos con plomo en sangre y desnutrición en Villa Inflamable
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ARGENTINA: A Flammable Neighbourhood
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Villa inflamable: “somos un barrio olvidado”
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Una batalla diaria contra los efectos de la contaminación
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Other Documents

Skin disease at Villa Inflamable
[click to view]

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
[click to view]

[click to view]

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