SMA formulates charges against ENAP

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

This press release from Chile's Superintendency of the Environment was published using an automatic translation system.

Start your 15 day free trial now!


Already a subscriber? Please, login

The Superintendency of the Environment (SMA) is the body created by law to supervise and sanction breaches of environmental management instruments, among them, the Environmental Qualification Resolutions (RCA) required for projects as of 1997. above, it is important to take this into account because it means that the SMA is prevented from supervising industrial projects prior to 1997, that is, most of the projects installed in the Puchuncaví-Quintero area, with the exception of some modifications or extensions that they have suffered in recent years. The SMA can not go beyond this legal restriction.

In this framework of competencies, the SMA during its 5 years of existence has annually audited all the industries of the industrial cord, specifically, those parts of its facilities that have RCA and as a result of these audits have initiated sanctioning processes against various companies.

However, barely known the unfortunate events that occurred during the week of August 20 last that resulted in mass poisoning of people, the SMA was mobilized to the place in order to initiate investigations that could lead us to determine the origin of the emanations and their responsible.

This task is always complex and takes considerable time, much more so, in a case like this in which the scenario we face is:

i) a conglomerate of more than 15 large-scale industries, located next to each other,

ii) from which similar ranges of pollutants are emitted in almost all of them,

iii) an emanation of irregular contaminants completely out of the normal, of very short duration, but of high intensity so that when they begin to manifest the symptoms in people, these emanations had already stopped, that is to say, there was no evidence,

iv) with a very preliminary background that indicated that the probable contaminant was some kind of hydrocarbon component and,

v) Given the justified public alarm generated, answers had to be arrived at as quickly as possible.

To come to determine irrefutably, and under the conditions mentioned, the source or sources responsible for having produced something like this is extraordinarily complex, if one wants to do it with seriousness and responsibility. The easy thing, without a doubt, would be to arrive and attribute responsibilities to the volley without a minimum technical support, but the discipline of work that we have imposed in this institution is very far from that. Our investigations should lead us to reasonably conclusive results in order to clarify what happened but without violating the rights of anyone in the process. It is the public faith that is at stake, the confidence of citizens in their institutions, and certainly, the environmental institutionality that is put to the test in every decision.

When we started this investigation it was explained that the identification of the person in charge was not something that would be achieved overnight, but despite that, we publicly assumed the commitment to have the results within two weeks. Aware of the magnitude of the commitment assumed, from the first day, and without interruption for 24 hours and seven days a week, the SMA has deployed all the resources that are within our reach, reinforcing from Santiago, the team of 3 inspectors with which we have in the V Region.

Well, two weeks later, and after a research process that included numerous inspection visits to more than a dozen industrial cord installations, the taking of statements from different actors, employees and executives of all the companies inspected, it takes of samples and analysis of laboratories, modeling the behavior of various environmental variables and many other actions that would be too long to list here, this Superintendency has decided to formulate charges to the company ENAP Refinerías SA holder of the Maritime Terminal of Quintero project, for the use of the system for the treatment of their liquid industrial waste under conditions other than those environmentally approved, which has involved the exposure of large quantities of hydrocarbons to the weather and the consequent emission of volatile organic compounds in conditions that have significantly affected the health of the population from Qui ntero.

The inadequate use of the treatment system is expressed mainly in the introduction of fluids other than what is authorized (waste with a higher load of hydrocarbons), a removal efficiency lower than that committed in the environmental assessment (98% committed efficiency versus 44%). % real), the pouring of fluids in contravention of the authorized (use of vacuum trucks instead of authorized ducts and gutters) and the introduction of fluids in units other than those authorized by the RCA (use of different treatment and deposition chambers) as authorized).

Additionally, and with the aim of seeking to clarify the reasons that led a group of people to attend yesterday's health centers in Quintero, as well as control the operational and environmental conditions of the Quintero Bay establishments has been dictated The following measure:

Requirement of information to Codelco and AES Gener with hourly detail of the last 72 hours regarding the emissions of compounds regulated by both the foundries and thermoelectric standards.

Requirement to all industrial cord establishments to provide daily and indefinite information about their operating conditions, possible contingencies and reports of atmospheric emissions. Requirement of information to the I. Municipality of Quintero in relation to an incident occurred in the dump of Quintero on August 27 that consisted of the burning of a part of the waste deposited in it.

For greater detail, access to the formulation of positions in the National System of Information on Environmental Enforcement (SNIFA):