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Petrochemical Complex in Itaborai, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


The project of the Petrochemical Complex of Rio de Janeiro State (Comperj) is considered to be one of the greatest single investments of Petrobras, a Brazilian state company, and marks the return of the company to the petrochemical sector. It is inserted in the Plano de Aceleracao do Crescimento (PAC) of the Federal Government. Petrobras promises to generate an annual turnover of around $2 billion with the export of high value-added products, in addition to the generation of 200 thousand direct and indirect jobs during construction and 50 thousand jobs in the operation phase.

Despite the promise of employment and income generation, various sectors of the population in the region have struggled against the installation or against the adverse effects of other projects related to the complex. Some of these are the installation of a waterway in Guaxindiba river basin or the construction of a submarine outfall to discharge liquid effluent from the complex on the coast near the city of Marica. The project also threatens many protected areas located in the vicinity of Guanabara Bay. In addition, it also threatens the artisanal fisheries in the Bay area. Among the groups that are currently struggling against the project are the artisanal fishermen of Guanabara Bay (in particular groups of Mage, Itaborai, Sao Goncalo and Marica), environmental organizations, residents of areas close to the project and some researchers linked to universities.

Independent studies show that the joint venture would also generate air pollution, with emissions of volatile hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, metals, acids and toxic organic compounds. There are also complaints that Rio de Janeiro state environmental agency, which is responsible for licensing of the project, has been subjected to political pressure on the part of Petrobras and the State Government of Rio de Janeiro for the licensing was done quickly, in spite of all the social and environmental problems identified by their environmental impact study.

The workers are also fighting for better working relationships and have already carried out strikes for better wages.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Petrochemical Complex in Itaborai, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
State or province:Rio de Janeiro
Location of conflict:Itaborai, Sao Goncalo, Mage, Marica e Rio de Janeiro
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Chemical industries
Oil and gas refining
Specific commodities:Plastics And Other Petrochemical Products
Crude oil
Chemical products

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The complex will process 150 million barrels of heavy oil per year.

The complex will produce 1.3 million tons of ethylene, 900 thousand tons of propylene, 700 thousand tons of paraxylene and 360 thousand tons of benzene and other oil derivatives as diesel, naphtha and mostly coke.

Project area:4500
Level of Investment:21000000000
Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:2008
Company names or state enterprises:Petróleo Brasileiro S.A (PETROBRAS) from Brazil
Companhia Estadual de Aguas e Esgotos (CEDAE) from Brazil
Relevant government actors:The State Government of Rio de Janeiro, Instituto Estadual do Ambiental ヨ INEA, Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente e Recursos Naturais Renovaveis - IBAMA, Instituto Chico Mendes de Biodiversidade - ICMBio, Tribunal de Contas da Unio - TCU, Assembleia Legislativa do Rio de Janeiro - ALERJ, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro - UFRJ, Forum Permanente para o Desenvolvimento da Area de Influencia do COMPERJ - Forum Comperj, Consrcio Intermunicipal de Desenvolvimento da Regio Leste Fluminense - CONLESTE, Conselho Municipal de Desenvolvimento da Cidade de Duque de Caxias - CONCIDADE
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Conselho Comunitrio do Comperj, Movimento Pr-Restinga, Movimento Velejar, Luta por Maric, Grupo Ecoando, Sindicato dos Petroleiros do Estado do Rio de Janeiro - Sindipetro RJ, Associao de Pescadores do Porto Velho - AMPOVEP, Colnia de Pescadores da Comunidade de Zacarias, APALMA, Central nica dos Trabalhadores [CUT], Sindicato dos Trabalhadores da Construo, Montagem, Manuteno e Mobilirio de So Gonalo, Itabora e Regio [SINTCOM], Associacao Homens e Mulheres do Mar da Baia de Guanabara [AHOMAR], Associacao Nacional dos Servidores do IBAMA [ASISBAMA]

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Industrial workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Deaths
Potential: Accidents, Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The project was licensed by the environmental agencies, it is being built and most of the measures to mitigate the social and environmental impacts have not been implemented.

Sources & Materials

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

INSTITUTO ESTADUAL DO AMBIENTE. Ata da Audincia Pblica do empreendimento Complexo Petroqumico do Rio de Janeiro - COMPERJ. Itabora 03 de maro 2008.

MINISTRIO PBLICO FEDERAL. Autos do inqurito civil pblico n. e Inicial de ao civil pblica com pedido de liminar. So Gonalo: MPF, 2008. 62 p.

CARVALHO, Ana Paula. Parecer sobre o estudo de impacto ambiental do emissario submarino e terrestre do COMPERJ. Blog Barlavento e Sotavento, 27 fev. 2012. Disponvel em: Acesso em: 10 set. 2012.

HERRERA, Breno. Vetores de Desenvolvimento Industrial em reas Protegidas: A Relao do Mosaico Central Fluminense com o Complexo Petroqumico do Rio de Janeiro. In: SEMINRIO DE PESQUISA E INICIAO CIENTFICA DO INSTITUTO CHICO MENDES DE CONSERVAO DA BIODIVERSI

MENEZES, Luiz Guilherme A.B. A ecloso de tenses ambientais no estado do Rio de Janeiro: O exemplo da Agenda 21 Comperj no municpio de So Gonalo. Geografar, Curitiba, v. 4, n. 1, p. 16-33, jan/jun.2009. ISSN 1981-089X. Disponvel em: < >. Acesso em: 25 set

FERREIRA, Maria Ins Paes et al. Desafios gesto ambiental para a rea de influncia do Complexo Petroqumico do Rio de Janeiro - COMPERJ, Itabora, RJ. In: ENCONTRO NACIONAL DE ENGENHARIA DE PRODUO, 27, 09 a 11 out., 2007, Foz do Iguau. Trabalhos. Foz do Iguau

Disponvel em: Acesso em: 17 nov. 2009.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites


MPF realiza audincia para discutir impactos do Comperj. Jornal do Brasil, 03 ago. 2012.

ORDOEZ, Ramona, ROSA, Bruno, SUWWAN, Leila e NOGUEIRA, Danielle. Questionamento do TCU provoca paralisao nas obras do Comperj. O Globo, Rio de Janeiro, 23 jul. 2009

LIMA, Kelly e TERESA, Irani. TCU manda parar obras de complexo da Petrobrs. O Estado de So Paulo, So Paulo, 25 jul. 2009.

PETROBRS S.A. Comperj Complexo Petroqumico do Rio de Janeiro

MANIFESTO de Repdio pelo Assassinato dos Pescadores da AHOMAR. Justia Global, 29 jun. 2012

AUDINCIA pblica discute impactos socioambientais do COMPERJ. Ministrio Pblico Federal, Procuradoria da Repblica do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Procuradoria Regional dos Direitos do Cidado, 09 ago. 2012

ASSOCIAO NACIONAL DOS SERVIDORES DO IBAMA. COMPERJ: A Morte da Pesca Artesanal na Baa de Guanabara. 03 jul. 2012

ALMEIDA, Henrique. Violaes em obras da Comperj e TKCSA so alvos de protesto de pescadores. Jornal do Brasil, 01 ago. 2012

COELHO JUNIOR, Lauro e PORTO, Gisele. Ata de audincia pblica: COMPERJ: Debate sobre os seus impactos sociais e ambientais. Ministrio Pblico Federal, Procuradoria da Repblica do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Procuradoria Regional dos Direitos do Cidado, 06 ago

Meta information

Contributor:Diogo Rocha
Last update08/04/2014