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Argentine enviro secretary fined for dirty river

Argentine enviro secretary fined for dirty river

Environmentalists praised a judge on Wednesday for fining Argentina's environmental secretary and two local politicians for failing to clean up the polluted river that flows sluggishly through the heart of the capital.
More than 4,100 sources of pollution, including tanneries; oil, chemical, and metal plants; industrial food plants; and illegal sewage pipes drain into the Riachuelo, one of Argentina's worst environmental hotspots.
There are at least 110 open garbage dumps along the river, according to the Foundation for the Environment and Natural Resources, an Argentine environmental group.
In June 2006, the Supreme Court ordered the national government to present a cleanup plan for the river, which reaches into 14 cities and affects an estimated 4.8 million people, most of them poor.
The court put compliance in the hands of a federal judge, who on Tuesday ordered fines of more than $1,300 a day against Environmental Secretary Homero Bibiloni and two local politicians if they don't remove structures from the riverbank within 30 days.
"It's a very positive sign," said Andres Napoli, who directs the foundation's work along the Riachuelo. "The justice system is saying very clearly that its rulings must be followed. The fines by themselves won't change the Riachuelo, but it can break a bit of the inertia" the government has shown.
One of the two local politicians _ Lomas de Zamora Mayor Jorge Rossi _ promptly resigned, citing "personal reasons."
Napoli said many others have failed to comply with the court, and that very little money has been spent on cleanup, despite international help.
Of the $250 million lent by the International Development Bank during Ex-President Carlos Menem's term, less than 10 percent was spent on river cleanup, while most was diverted to other social programs, Napoli said. Meanwhile, he said river pollution has worsened, sickening millions who lack safe drinking water or proper sewage.


Updated : 2020-11-30 10:52 GMT+08:00