By Chris Lang (September 2007):
The Chilean State Defence Council (CDE) has filed a 2 billion peso (US$3.9 million) lawsuit against Celulosa Arauco y Constitución SA (Celco) for environmental damage and health risks caused by the company’s pollution of the Matauito River.
Antonia Fortt, head of NGO Oceana‘s Marine Contamination campaign, said the lawsuit will be of interest also to other communities which have suffered pollution from CELCO’s pulp plants – communities like Valdivia, Mehuín, Arauco, Nueva Aldea, and Constitución.
According to a report by BNAmericas, if CDE wins the lawsuit, it intends to invest the money in cleaning up the Matauito River. In June 2007, about 20,000 cubic metres of untreated industrial waste was released into the Lourdes reservoir, which leads to the Matauito River. The leak was a result of a damaged pipeline in the wastewater treatment plant at CELCO’s Licancel pulp mill. Thousands of fish were killed as a result of the pollution.
The regional health authorities fined CELCO in August 2007 for the same pollution leak.
CELCO makes no mention of the lawsuit on its website and has so far declined to reply to pulpmillwatch.org’s questions about the pollution and the lawsuit.