05 October 2005

EUROPEAN UNION ENVIRONMENTAL COMISSION ARRIVES IN CHILE

Celco chiefs met with European Union (EU) members of Parliament in Santiago on Wednesday after Chile’s government decided no to let them visit the environmentally hazardous pulp and paper plant in Valdivia.

At the meeting, Celco presented the EU officials with their plans to minimize the environmental impact the plant would have on the area. Europeans had raised concerns that weak environmental laws in Chile gave an unfair advantage to Chilean exports.

Celco has become the poster child for Chile’s environmental policy after industrial waste from the plant contaminated the Cruces River. In the aftermath of the contamination, environmentalist and community groups accused the government of being complicit in the pollution by not enforcing higher standards (ST, Jan 13).

The issue has yet to be decided, but EU officials have expressed concern over claims that Celco’s effluent contaminated the City of Valdivia’s water supply and caused a drastic reduction in rare black-neck swan population in the nearby Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary.