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Amazon under threat of hydro

The local community speaks before the environmental damage coming from the capitalist exploration of the area.

On february 17 2018, a big technological disaster struck hundreds of families in the
city of Barcarena, in the state of Pará: waste from the process of refining bauxite
leaked, affecting rivers and houses. The basin belongs to the norwegian company
Hydro. Cases of water contamination in this area aren’t recent. Since 2009 there are
complaints against the mining companies and the application of fines on the
environmental crimes, R$ 17,1 million total, were never paid.
The government of Pará’s state, under the command of Simão Jatene (PSDB), should
charge the ecological and social responsibility from the multinational companies to
minimize the pain and suffering of Barcarena’s citizens. But the government offers
tax breaks to these companies and the multimillionaire fines remain unpaid.
Meanwhile, the population suffers from dermatological, gastric and respiratory
diseases due to the contact and ingestion of toxic substances like aluminium, lead
and caustic materials.
Hydro continues with a ICMS tax break in electric energy that corresponds to a 7,5
billion from 2015 to 2030, that represents the amount of 500 million reais that won’t
go to the state safes.
In this context, the local community spoke before the environmental damage that
came from the more than 20 chemical waste basins. In 2017, several complaints and
marches occurred, the more serious warnings were about the localization of a waste
deposit in an area of environmental protection and a quilombola community (
Afro-Brazilian residents of quilombo settlements first established by escaped slaves
in Brazil). Press declarations made by Hydro affirmed at the time that they had the
environmental license of the State Secretariat for Environment and Sustainability
and that they are unaware of the existence of a quilombola territory on the land. Of
course that Hydro is unaware: to capitalism black lives don’t matter.
The same secretariat that supposedly cleared an environmentally protected area for
use also doesn’t fulfill it’s role of inspection. Would that be a case of incompetence or
connivence?
Before the release of the Evandro Chagas Institute report, the secretariat affirmed
that there was no such thing as basin leak and hydro denied all the accusations.
On february 22, the contamination by the basin of waste overflow was proven as was
the existence of a clandestine tube launching toxic substances to he Igarapés and
river sources. And so there was no way out: Hydro accepted the fault and signed a
deal to distribute drinkable water to the Bom Jesus and Vila Nova communities. But
nothing was done about the physical and mental health and social life of those who
had their bodies exposed to substances that predispose diseases like cancer.
In an attempt to intervene in this scenario, an entourage of federal congressmen and
other authorities visited the industrial plant and soon after a public hearing was
made. Several communities leaderships participated on the hearing, demanding
solutions and warning about the harassment they suffer and the lack of attitude from
the authorities in doing something about it immediately. “While you were drinking
mineral water we were drinking Hydro’s poison”, those were the words of the
representant of the Native and Quilombola Amazon Association (Associação indígena
e quilombola da Amazônia – Caiqama).
In an interview, the state governor attributed the guilt of the disaster on the intense
raining. Probably, Para’s state governor is unaware that the amazonic winter is
characterized by constante raining, or he is not interested in pointing out the real
guilty.
We know who must pay for that! Hydro and the State shall give answers and
solutions to the people!
The poor community can’t keep suffering while the powerful ones profit!
This text was written in collaboration with Heliane Abreu, teacher from Belém-PA
private school sector.

1 According to the brazilian classification of disasters, technological disaster refer to
the contamination by radioactive substances or toxic products.

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