SANTIAGO – A Chilean mayor who days ago vowed to wage a legal battle against a planned industrial waste facility ordered on Friday the shutdown of 31 installations belonging to an existing landfill in his town.
The action in Til Til – a town in the northern part of the Santiago metropolitan area – was taken against the Loma Los Colorados landfill, a solid waste operation that is run by Santiago-based KDM, a unit of the Urbaser-Danner Group (made up of Spain’s Urbaser and US-based The Danner Company), and treats 67 percent of the waste generated by the Chilean capital.
“The law is being enforced in Til Til. Although we’ve received threats from the government, Til Til is now complying with (its obligations) to its people and the country,” Mayor Nelson Orellana said.
The action affects installations that either lack the required local permits or have permits that were modified without the municipality being notified.
Orellana took the measure just days after a committee comprising Chile’s environment, health, agriculture, mining and economy ministers authorized construction of an industrial waste plant in the town of 15,000 inhabitants.
The mayor said his town would not accept the new plant and vowed to wage a battle in the courts, including the San Jose, Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights if necessary.
Til Til already is home to two landfills, coal and steel plants, a pig farm, two mine tailings facilities, a wastewater treatment plant and the Punta Peuco prison, which houses inmates convicted of rights abuses during late Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 dictatorship.
The mayor said Friday that KDM’s landfill was in violation of several environmental norms and that the shuttered installations could eventually be demolished.
Federal authorities, for their part, ruled out that a shutdown of the Loma Los Colorados landfill would trigger an environmental emergency.
“We hope sanity prevails,” Health Minister Carmen Castillo told reporters, although she acknowledged that closing down the municipal solid waste operation would have a serious environmental impact and urged the sides to hold talks to resolve their dispute.