Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Puerto Madryn in Argentina’s Patagonia every year to see whales, penguins and sea lions. But the city of 120,000 people does not live mainly from tourism, but from Aluar, the largest aluminum factory in Latin America. This company’s smokestacks never stop working.
For 30 years, a verbose 82-year-old mechanical engineer named Carlos Moreno has been claiming that more fluoride than allowed comes out of those pipes. “That’s why so many people get sick in Madryn,” he says. The Aluar plant faces the sea and is located in the north of Madryn, so when the wind blows to the south, people breathe what comes out of the smokestacks.
The evidence of the pollution that Carlos presented in 1997 to the provincial court was not enough, even though he presented reports prepared by Aluar itself. The reports are in a folder that Carlos Moreno still carries in a green leather briefcase everywhere he goes, as if they were his house keys or his wallet. The documents date from 1991 and in them, the company acknowledges that as the measuring device approached the factory, the presence of fluoride in the air increased. The company’s directors were acquitted and paid no fines. Since then, the figures for environmental impact measurements have not been publicly known.
*Original full-text article online at: https://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/articles/entry/the-axis-of-fluoride-corporate-pollution-in-argentina