Protests Force Expanded Evaluation

Landau, November 10, 2016. 

The environmental impact assessment of the Dominga Project and the port facility Totoralillo Norte, is in the final deciding phase. The corporation Andes Iron submitted its third addendum to its application on October 17th. According to Chilean law, the responsible agencies now had to present their concluding observations within ten days.  It is expected that the regional government in Coquimbo would then quickly (before the end of the year) make a decision on the Dominga Project and the port facility.

In Andes Iron's touched-up assessment, it was now indicated that the basis of the evaluation should consider the consequences of the ship traffic on the neighboring protected areas.

The agencies such as CONAF, Sernapesca, and the 224,179 supporters of the petition “Save 26,000 Penguins” have always demanded this (see “For a Factual Environmental Impact Assessment”, from January 25, 2016). The SEA in Chile (Chilean federal agency that will evaluate the environmental impact) has accepted this additional requirement, stopped the review process that has occurred up until now, and, based on this additional factor, started the review process anew. That means that the review of ship traffic and its impact on the many surrounding protected areas will involve civic participation. Andes Iron must soon begin with workshops that will attempt to lay out to the public, what their plans are with respect to their intended projects, and explain how they plan to make sure that the many natural protection areas will not be harmed. The citizens will then have the opportunity to comment and indicate their stance on the issue until December 15th. Sphenisco is currently preparing a statement on this, and requests Chilean scientists to submit their observations. This expansion of the evaluation is a step in the right direction and improves the chances of a fact-based review of the environmental impact by the regional government, and, if necessary, by the Chilean courts. This changes nothing however, with respect to the economic and political pressure, which is enormous, that is being applied to try to get the Dominga Project and the port facility in Totoralillo Norte approved.        

translated by Erich Greiner