World Rainforest Movement

Chile: community opposes pulp mill project

The fishing community of Mehuin in the 10th Region of Chile is opposing the project of Celulosa Arauco y Constitucin S.A. (CELCO) -a huge pulp and paper company- to build a pulp mill coupled with a pipeline that would discharge toxic pollutants resulting from the production process in the bay where they live. More than 600 lts. of effluents a second would be poured into the waters, causing severe environmental effects on the population of fish that is the livelihhood of this community, and on their own health. The community of Mehuin has firmly stated that it even opposes the realization of an Environmental Impact Assessment and so has the Mapuche community, according to which those lands are protected by the Indigenous Law. This shows the growing discredit of environmental assessments carried out by consultants -usually paid by the company- whose findings are almost always basically favourable to megaprojects and only include “mitigation” measures. In this case, people are simply against the whole idea and that is the reason for the opposition to the EIA. Nevertheless the provincial Government considers the project essential for the “development” of the region, severely affected by unemployment and is strongly in favour of its implementation.

The megaproject undertaken by CELCO is expected to produce 550,000 tons of cellulose annualy, consuming 2,240,000 cubic meters of pine and 563,000 cubic meters of eucalyptus every year. This would mean a further increase in the plantation area in Chile, that is increasingly perceived as a big problem by the peasants.

Source: Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales, RENACE,
IEP – Chile.