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Demonstrations against dams, Río Puelo, Patagonia

Puelo Sin Torres Campaign

In the year 2011, the company Mediterráneo S.A., presented to the Environmental Assessment Service a megaproject named the Central de Pasada in the Manso River sub-basin, a tributary of the Puelo River, which would generate 210 MW of electricity and entail the construction of a 60km long electrical transmission line that would connect with the Chile’s central energy grid. The impact of the project on the basin would be brutal, with 203 towers, each 42 meters high including a strip of clear-cut land 40 meters wide through the heart of the Puelo River wilderness. The main impacts will be the fragmentation of the landscape, loss of the environmental value of the territory, and individual property loss. This would be compounded by the impact of 5,000 non-native workers, mostly male, in a community that does not exceed 3,908 people (INE, 2012).

The project proposed by Mediterraneo S.A. has already disturbed the tranquility of this territory and will irremediably hurt the land and divide its families.

Despite the fact that the environmental impact assessment omitted many important impacts of the project, it was approved in March 2014, during the transitional period between governments, under a series of administrative and technical irregularities, such as: insufficient baseline studies, neglect of indigenous community inputs, tourism impact, and the compartmentalization of the project to skirt the requirements of Chilean law.

Since 2013, along with the Puelo Patagonia Corporation, Geute Conservación Sur has mounted a legal campaign against the approval of the project, presenting: invalidations, claims, resources protection requests, and complaints to the Superintendence of the Environment.

Authorities have already acknowledged that the owner of the project committed a violation by not including the access road to the power plant in its original plan, an issue which will soon be resolved by the Environmental Court of Valdivia. In opposition, we have filed a claim against the environmental damage that will be incurred due to the illegal construction of this road.

However not all the news is bad, on November 18, 2016, the Environmental Court of Valdivia annulled the original RCA of the Mediterranean project, determining that “the conclusions reached by the original anthropological study and its extension were uncertain and inconclusive due to multiple methodological shortcomings.”