DERRAMES, CONTAMINACIÓN Y SILENCIO DE LOS ORGANISMOS OFICIALES en Jacal, Argentina

LEAKAGES, POLLUTION AND SILENCED GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS in Jachal, Argentina

El 13 de septiembre del 2015 ocurrió un derrame de cianuro en varios cuerpos de agua en San Juan, Argentina, consecuencia de trabajos mineros en el área. Este ha sido el incidente minero más grande de la historia del país. Aún así, este derrame no fue el único, seguido por dos más el 15 de septiembre del 2016 y el 27 de marzo del 2017. Varios ciudadanos de la zona se unieron conformando una asamblea hoy llamada, Asamblea Jáchal no se Toca y desde el 19 de octubre del 2015 montaron campamento 24 horas al día, como muestra de su inconformidad con la situación.

Foto: Plantón en Jachal

La responsable de mencionados derrames, es la empresa multinacional Barrick Gold Corporation, la minera de oro más grande del mundo, quien derramó 1 millón 72 mil litros de cianuro el 13 de septiembre; consecuencia de una falla de válvula en una tubería que transportaba la solución cianurada desde las pilas de lixiviación hasta el terraplén del valle de lixiviación. Al día, adicionando los otros dos derrames, se aproximan 4 millones 600 mil litros de solución cianurada derramada.

Foto: ríos cerca a la mina Veladero

El derrame se desplazó hasta el Río Potrerillos y hacia los caudales de ríos adjuntos (Río Las Taguas, Río La Palca, Río Blanco y Río Jáchal). El gobierno nacional y la gobernación de la provincia, asignaron a la UNOPS y el PNUMA para hacer un estudio de los efectos del derrame. Ambas declararon, durante un comunicado de prensa el día 19 de septiembre del 2015, que “la dispersión de contaminantes con motivo de un incidente ambiental no es un fenómeno instantáneo, sino que se caracteriza por la distribución espacial y temporal de sus elementos químicos, minerales y compuestos iónicos”. Sin embargo, tan sólo 8 meses después, el 11 de mayo del 2016, experto de la ONU, Carlos Angelaccio, descartó la posibilidad de contaminación, afirmando que el derrame no se trasladó por aguas subterráneas.

Fotos: Mina Veladero

No obstante, estudios recientes dirigidos por la Universidad Católica de Cuyo de San Juan con el Laboratorio de Control de Calidad, Dr. Alberto Graffigna, encontraron, el 31 de agosto del 2017, niveles de mercurio en el agua subterránea que exceden el 200% de lo establecido por la legislación. Este estudio fue localizado en el agua subterránea que se utiliza para consumo humano en la ciudad de Jáchal y las demás localidades rurales del departamento de Jáchal. De acuerdo al Código Alimentario Argentino (CAA), el límite máximo de mercurio por litro de  agua es de 0.001 miligramos. Se encontró un valor de 0.003 miligramos de mercurio por litro. Esto estaría relacionado con la dispersión espacial y temporal de contaminantes mencionada durante la rueda de prensa el 19 de septiembre 2015. La dispersión de cianuro puede generar polución secundaria, ya que atrae metales pesados como el mercurio, que se distribuyen lentamente hacia otros cuerpos de agua subterránea.

Foto: Antes del derrame

Foto: Después del derrame

Saúl Zeballos, miembro de la Asamblea Jáchal no se Toca, informa que el gobierno está cuestionando las conclusiones encontradas por la universidad y sugiere que se retracten de dichos resultados. Por su lado, la asamblea ha intentado solucionar la problemática enviando derechos de petición a ambos Ministerios de Salud y Educación, y al presidente de Obras Sanitarias Sociedad del Estado, Sergio Ruiz. Esto se envió con el propósito de que se adopten medidas para que se restablezca el consumo del agua que se distribuye en la ciudad de Jáchal, y que se provea a edificios públicos, establecimientos educativos y hospitales, agua embotellada. Sin embargo, a pesar de las manifestaciones de la comunidad por medio de diferentes medios, los esfuerzos han sido en vano, ya que la asamblea no ha recibido ninguna respuesta por parte de entidades gubernamentales, en consecuencia invisibilizando la crisis sanitaria y ambiental de más de 12,000 personas habitantes de la ciudad de Jáchal.

Foto: Pilas del valle de Lixiviación, Mina Veladero

 

 

 

 

On the 13th of September 2015, there was a leakage of cyanide solution to various water bodies in San Juan, Argentina, consequence of mining activities in the area. This has been the biggest mining incident in the story of the country. However, this leakage was not the only one and was followed by two more, on the 15th of September 2016 and the 27th of March 2017. Various citizens of the area joined in protest and created an assembly called Asamblea Jáchal no se Toca (Jáchal is not Touched) and since the 19th of October 2015, have camped 24 hours a day as a protest mechanism, showing their discomfort about the situation at hand.

Caption: Protest stoll in Jachal “Jachal no se toca”

The company responsible is Barrick Gold Corporation, the biggest gold mining in the world, who spilled 1 million 72 thousand liters of cyanide solution the 13th of September; consequence of a valve failure in the pipeline that moved cyanide solution from the heap leach to the embankment of the leach valley. Today, adding the posterior leakages, it is estimated that 400 million 600 thousand liters of cyanide solution were spilled.

Caption: adjacent rivers to the mine

The leakage moved through the river Potrerillos towards the adjacent rivers (river Las Taguas, river La Palca, river Blanco and river Jáchal). The national and provincial governments assigned the UNOPS and the PNUMA to run studies about the effects of the leakage. Both non-governmental institutions declared, during a press release on the 19th of September 2015, that “the dispersion of contaminants due to environmental incidents is not an instant phenomenon, but one that is characterized by the spatial and temporal distribution of its chemical elements, minerals and ionic compounds”. Nonetheless, only 8 months later, on the 11th of May 2016, UN expert, Carlos Angelaccio, discarded the possibility of contamination and affirmed that the leakage was not spilled to groundwater.

Captions: Veladero Mine

However, recent studies directed by the Catholic University of Cuyo of San Juan, with the Quality Control Laboratory, Dr. Alberto Graffigna, found, on the 31st of August 2017, levels of mercury on the groundwater that exceeded by 200% the established by legislation. This study was localized in the underwater that is used for human consumption in the city of Jáchal and adjacent rural communities in Jáchal department. According to Argentinian Food Code (CAA), the maximum limit of mercury per liter of water is of 0.001 milligrams. In the result found by the university, the level of mercury per liter of water was of 0.003 milligrams. This is related to the spatial and temporal distribution of contaminants mentioned in the press release of the 19th of September 2015. The circulation of cyanide solution can have secondary effects of pollution because it attracts heavy metals, such as mercury, that are slowly distributed towards other underwater bodies.

Caption: Before the spill

Caption: After the spill

Saúl Zeballos, member of the Assembly Jáchal no se Toca, informs that the government is questioning the results found by the university and is asking for the academics to retract from such marks. The assembly has intended to solve this issue by sending petition rights to both Ministries of Health and Education and the president of Sanitary Works Society of the State, Sergio Ruiz. This was sent with the sole purpose that the government restores the water’s consumption in the city of Jáchal and that the public buildings, education establishments and hospitals be given bottled water. However, regardless of the community’s efforts, they have not received any response from the government, which has neglected the health and environmental crisis more than 12,000 people in the city of Jáchal are going through.

Caption: Lixiviation Valley at Veladero Mine

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