Magazine article New Internationalist

Erin Brockovista

Magazine article New Internationalist

Erin Brockovista

Article excerpt

After decades of being forced to live with the effects of industrial pollution, frustration among the inhabitants of Chile's northern Huasco Valley is reaching breaking point.

'Everybody here knows somebody close to them who has cancer,' says campaigner and single mother Soledad Fuentealba. 'Seeing many of our friends and neighbours die young has driven us to take action.'

Fuentealba's group is fighting the construction of a major thermoelectric power plant by Spanish energy giant Endesa in the port town of Huasco. The plant is the latest addition to a slew of industrial projects - including an iron refinery, gold mine and giant pig slaughterhouse - that litter this fertile valley just south of the Atacama Desert.

Pollution has already emptied Huasco's bay of fish and fishing boats. Cancer is endemic; the result, campaigners say, of pollution from the neighbouring Guacolda power plant, which has been burning petroleum coke since 1995 - a substance which releases hazardous chemicals and is banned in many parts of the world. …

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