By Germán Mangione
According to its own website, Nidera's main activities in Argentina “are comprised of the reception, storage, conditioning and marketing of grains, oilseeds, oils, flours and derivatives. It also produces and commercializes packaged edible oils for the country and abroad and is a leader in research, production and provision of hybrids and varieties for the seed market, along with the distribution of a wide variety of agricultural inputs. ”The multinational born in Rotterdam, Holland, in 1920, which just nine years later began its operations in Argentina, is today majority owned by Chinese capital.
In March of this year the National Cereals, Oil & Foodstuffs (Cofco) kept 51% of its share package.
The company has two soybean and sunflower milling plants where it generates value-added by-products for local and foreign markets, with its own shipping terminal for loading solids and liquids in the town of Puerto General San Martín. There, on Sunday, October 26, we were able to verify (see photos and video) how the boarding of a grain ship was carried out without using the necessary environmental safety implements. It is mandatory that the port terminals have and use, at the time of boarding, hydrants that throw water on the loading area to mitigate the dust resulting from the operation.
With the naked eye, and observing the cloud of dust that covered the ship, it could be seen that they were not being used, violating the regulations that require ventilation or aeration systems for grains, wheels and conduits, loading and unloading, which requires that "They must be technically equipped to minimize the release of particulate material to the outside and reduce the noise level"
In addition, this practice violates environmental regulations such as resolution 201/2004 sanctioned in Santa Fe on December 21, 2004, which in its second article clarifies:
“For the purposes of this Resolution, air pollution is understood to be the presence in it of any chemical, physical or biological agent, or a combination thereof, generated by human activity, in such concentration and times, and the frequency occurrence, that may be harmful to human health or harmful to animal or plant life, or that prevent the use and enjoyment of properties or places of recreation ”Despite declaring large expenses in environmental protection on the company's website such as those made in the period 2010-2011 (environmental expenses for $ 983,623, and environmental investments for $ 26,143,379) the hydrants were not in operation.
Dangerous dust "Four out of ten people who live near silos that store grains have respiratory problems and, eventually, allergies, due to the emission of soy, wheat and corn dust."
This ensures the study carried out in the Córdoba city of Marcos Juárez, by scientists and professionals, several of whom work as teachers at the Catholic University of Córdoba Also in the Santa Fe town of Firmat the Municipality proceeded in 2012 to close the collection plant that Nidera has located in the heart of the urban area.
The measure came a day after the last inspection carried out found that the firm had partially complied with the indications formulated to carry out a series of reforms in its facilities in order to avoid the strong environmental impact caused by its activities. This measure was based on the long list of claims made by residents of the place for decades, who show health problems as a result of dust, noise and contamination of the products used in the handling of grains.
Who controls? Although the Argentine Naval Prefecture, in its role as the Environmental Protection Police, includes the prevention and fight against water pollution by hydrocarbons and other harmful and dangerous substances from ships, being the Application Authority of numerous Specific International Conventions, in Communication with La Brújula assured that this control is the responsibility of the Municipality of Puerto San Martín.
From the URBAN PLANNING Secretariat of the Puerto Rico municipality they assured not to know of the fact, nor of their competence in the control of events of this type.
For their part, the provincial authorities should act upon the fait accompli if article 14 of Resolution No. 177/03 on storage, distribution, conditioning and conservation of grains is taken into account, it is explained that “when episodes of atmospheric pollution are detected in the area of an establishment, due to the emissions generated by its operation, exceeding the Air Quality Guide Levels established in Annex I, the Secretary of State for the Environment and Sustainable Development will evaluate the establishment, its expansion and / or modification of activities, requiring the necessary corrections to adapt it to this Resolution. "
But the rule seems to be different.
As well as the absence of laboratories that carry out the evaluations to determine the toxicity of agrochemicals are directly linked or are the same companies (Monsanto, Nidera, Atanor, etc.) that produce and commercialize pesticides, the control of port pollution seems to be free to the goodwill of multinational grain companies.
A not very encouraging outlook.