Fernanda Baissi es Coordinadora de Comunicación Institucional de Fundación CEDHA. Especialista en el manejo de sitios open source.

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May 2 2012 – Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Center for Human Rights and Environment (CEDHA) and the Environment and Development Foundation (FUNDAYD) filed a complaint before the Argentine Supreme Court against the Federal Government, two local provinces and 33 companies* responsible for contaminating the

Salí Dulce River Basin. The companies targeted include sugar producers, fruit processing companies, paper pulp mills, and meatpacking companies. It’s the first complaint before the Argentine Supreme Court to address atmospheric contamination by industries.

The collective civil action, with financial support from the Environmental Defender Law Center, presented to the maximum court, calls for environmental reparations of the Salí. The Salí Dulce River Basin is Argentina’s largest and one of Latin America’s most important endorheic basin, that is, a closed drainage water basin system that retains water allowing no outflow to other basins or oceans. The basin includes territories pertaining to five provinces, Tucumán, Catamarca, Córdoba, Santiago del Estero and Salta. It is home to some 5 million people with the Salí Dulce as the principle source of water for Santiago del Estero province.

The companies listed in the complaint spill their untreated liquid effluents directly into the Salí Dulce River. This enormous amount of toxic waste over time has caused severe damage to the entire river basin, especially at the Río Hondo water reservoir, the only source of fresh water for the population of Santiago del Estero. Contamination extends to the lower basin as far as the Mar Chiquita wetlands in Córdoba province. The pollution is so extreme that the Río Hondo Lake suffers near complete eutriphication (an over-saturation of nitrates and phosphates) making the water unfit for natural habitats or for human consumption. Tons of dead fish have scoured the shores of the Río Hondo over the last several years, attesting to the collapsed state of the water reserve.

The widespread and uncontrolled use of agro-pesticides used in industrial agriculture as well as sewage water running into waterways, further aggravates the situation. Solid waste is also commonly found in the Salí water system from the illegal and uncontrolled disposal of solid waste along the shores and into the river water. The sugar industry is responsible for over 80% of organic pollutants in the river basin, and an equal percentage of the areas atmospheric contamination, which contributes to climate change and acid rain.

Juan Picolotti, legal representative of CEDHA and co-author of the complaint indicated, “the problem of the Salí Dulce basin has a common thread … industrial pollution and inefficient controls by environmental authorities. The daily impact caused to water quality, to air quality, and to flora and fauna affects the quality of life of the many millions of people that depend on the basin’s ecosystem”. The complaint calls on the states with jurisdiction over the territory (the federal government and the five provincial governments) to carry out an Integrated Clean-up Plan for the Salí Dulce River Basin, which should contain specific obligations to the authorities, a clear timetable and earmarked financing to ensure proper implementation.

Raul Vidable, President of the FUNDAYD (a local NGO in La Rioja Province), co-author of the complaint remarked, “the complaint addresses social and economic dimensions of the problem, and offers a market study and review of technologies available to minimize and better control environmental impacts of industries. An integrated plan for environmental restitution should include the construction of treatment facilities, the installation of air filters in industrial chimneys, a study and calculation of environmental liabilities and the creation of a public access to information system

to better monitor and ensure compliance of the plan. We should also have an emergency clean-up plan in place to provide immediate protection of the health of riverside communities.”

For more information and to obtain a copy of the complaint (available only in Spanish), contact:

CEDHA: Juan Miguel Picolotti

Cel: (+54) 9 351 642 2654

jpicolotti@cedha.org.ar

FUNDAYD: Raul Angel Vidable

Cel: (+54) 9 380 4228 3831

Raul_vidable@hotmail.com

*Companies targetted in the complaint

  • INGENIOS AZUCAREROS

  • KONAVLE S.A. INGENIO AGUILARES

  • COMPAÑÍA AZUCARERA CONCEPCIÓN S.A. (INGENIO CONCEPCIÓN)

  • INDUKOM ARGENTINA S.A. – INGENIO SAN JUAN,

  • AZUCARERA ARGENTINA COMERCIAL E INDUSTRIAL S.A. –INGENIO LA CORONA.

  • ARENAL DEL NORTE S.A. – INGENIO CRUZ ALTA

  • COMPAÑIA AZUCARERA BALCANES S.A. – INGENIO LA FLORIDA,

  • ATANOR S.C.A. – INGENIO LEALES,

  • ATANOR S.C.A. – INGENIO MARAPA,

  • ARCOR S.A.C.I. – INGENIO LA PROVIDENCIA,

  • S.A. SER – INGENIO ÑUÑORCO,

  • AZUCARERA DEL SUR S.R.L. – INGENIO LA TRINIDAD,

  • JOSE MINETTI Y CIA LTDA. S.A.C.I. – INGENIO LA FRONTERITA,

  • JOSE MINETTI Y CIA LTDA. S.A.C.I. – INGENIO BELLA VISTA,

  • LAS DULCES DEL NORTE S.A. – INGENIO SANTA ROSA,

  • ESTABLECIMIENTO AZUCARERO JUAN M. TERAN S.A.- INGENIO SANTA BARBARA,

  • EMPRESAS CITRICOLAS:

  • COOPERATIVA DE CITRICULTORES DE TAFÍ VIEJO – C.O.T.A

  • EMPRESA CITROMAX S.A.C.I

  • EMPRESA ACHERAL S.A

  • EL CARMEN S.A

  • S.A. SAN MIGUEL

  • LITORAL CITRUS S.A

  • VICENTE TRAPANI S.A

  • CITRUSVIL S.A.

  • FRIGORIFICOS

  • FRIGORIFICO CALCHAQUI S.A. ,

  • COOPERATIVA DE TRABAJOS DE SERVICIOS AGROINDUSTRIAL LTDA., 26-FRIGORIFICO INDUSTRIAL DEL NORTE S.A.,

  • FRIGORIFICO SAN ISIDRO DE LULES S.R.L.,

  • FRIGORIFICO BELLA VISTA MANUFACTURING S.R.L.

  • FRIGO CARNICO S.R.L.,

  • ESTABLECIMIENTO FRIGORIFICO LA BARRACA S.A.,

  • ARCE ASTERIO,

  • OTRAS INDUSTRIAS CONTAMINANTES

  • PAPELERA TUCUMAN S.A.,

  • COMPAÑÍA ARGENTINA DE LEVADURAS CALSA S.A.