MAC: Mines and Communities

Esquel Citizens Group Denounces "Sham" Environmental Report

Published by MAC on 2005-06-09

Esquel Citizens Group Denounces "Sham" Environmental Report

Report from Esquel, Argentina -

9th June 2005

Members of the Esquel citizens group Vecinos Autoconvocados presented complaints to the District Attorney in the province of Chubut, Argentina, objecting to an environmental report on the Arroyo Amarillo commissioned by the government. The group argues that the report "does not meet the basic requirements nor legal formalities" such as notarization, judicial authority or the provincial environmental department authority for samples taken "for which this report should be rejected without much analysis," and that the report does not have the necessary impartiality urged by the Esquel community.

The environmental report was prepared by Marcelo Idoyaga, a professor of Natural and Physical Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires. In his conclusions, he stated that "there is no evidence of which supports the hypothesis of contamination," contradicting previous studies already on the record. Released as public record at the end of April, this new report was widely touted in a national press campaign.

Canadian mining company Meridian Gold needs to close all the legal claims still held against them in their effort to "whitewash" their image, present a new Environmental Impact Report, face public hearings and obtain goverment approval to go ahead with the mining project rejected two years ago. It remained clear from the moment that this new "report" was released that Chubut governor Mario Das Neves is still working in league with the maneuvers of the mining company. The citizens group claimed also that "the excessive publicity that the governor has given this pseudo-report leads one to suppose that he is "setting the stage" to stop the preliminary investigations, and bury the earlier reports."

The document of the Esquel citizens group includes both analyses made by local professionals, as well as a recording of testimony given by an ex-driller who worked in the exploration stage of Meridian Gold operations. Copies of the presentation made to the District Attorney along with the analyses were delivered by the citizen's group to the City Council and the Esquel Mayor Rafael Williams.

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