Last update:

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.

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Polo Petroquímico de Dock Sud en “Villa Inflamable”, Argentina.
State or province:Buenos Aires
Location of conflict:Avellaneda
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 commodities:Crude oil
Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project details

La 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:380
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:6000
Start of the conflict:1984
Company names or state enterprises:Shell Chemical Company from United States of America
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 actors:Autoridad 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 organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Supporters: Sembrando Sueños (NGO); Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ); Greenpeace Argentina; Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA);
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-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
Other Health impactsSpecific impact on children (lead contamination); poisoning from acid (vomiting and dizziness); hemorrhagic measles; loss of breathing capacity; anencephaly; diarrhea;
Socio-economical 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
Other socio-economic impactsSpecific impacts on women as "mothers" very concerned about their children.
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

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

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

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

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 to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

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'
[click to view]

ARGENTINA: A Flammable Neighbourhood
[click to view]

Chicos con plomo en sangre y desnutrición en Villa Inflamable
[click to view]

Una batalla diaria contra los efectos de la contaminación
[click to view]

Villa inflamable: “somos un barrio olvidado”
[click to view]

Other comments:Environmental 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
Contributor:Grettel Navas (ENVJustice Project)
Last update13/12/2017
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.