Divide and dump waste

Published: Thursday 15 May 2008

A paper and pulp mill, operating in southern Chile, has pitted a group of fisherfolk against its neighbours and is trying to get away by installing a controversial pipeline to dump waste water from its mill into the Pacific ocean. In the past few weeks the groups in Mehuin and Missisipi villages have clashed violently. Authorities have deployed special police forces in the area to keep the situation under control.

The conflict dates back to 1996, when the Celco pulp mill proposed building a waste duct through the villages. The communities then blocked the project saying that it would pollute their fishing waters and threaten their livelihood. Celco later turned to the Cruces river and dumped wastes. But in 2004, its toxic waste killed thousands of black-necked swans. Authorities ordered the plant to shut down after people living in the vicinity also complained of polluted groundwater. Now that the plant has reopened, the company wants to discharge its waste into the Pacific ocean. But residents in Mehuin and Missisipi are still opposed to it. Following this, Celco has reportedly offered a cash payoff of us $18,000 to each fisherman of three fishing groups and reached an agreement that says "the villagers allow the project to go ahead". Those opposed to the project are now taking the issue to the court.

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