Environmental super surfers launch ‘Fuerza Chile! Stand Up for Clean Water’
Save The Waves Coalition announces the “Fuerza Chile! Stand up for Clean Water” Campaign including the launch of fundraising goal of
$10,000 for water quality testing in central Chile. Donations will support a much-needed water quality testing in the ocean at the outfall of a pulp mill plant and along the Itata River. This will provide independent, scientifically valid evidence of the impacts on the coastal and marine environment from pulp mill production and to force the industry to change their contaminating ways.
Save The Waves launched the Fuerza Chile! Campaign in March 2010 to provide humanitarian aid after a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami devastated the central coast of Chile. After a year of relief work, Save The Waves is working put the focus back on water pollution from pulp mill factories, which remains a serious threat to the coastal waters of the Maule and Biobío Regions.
The Pacific coast of Chile provides habitat for some of the most special marine wildlife in the world. This includes a number of unique species of dolphins, whales, penguins, seals, sea lions and otters. It is also home to many artisanal fishing communities and small-scale agricultural farmers who make their living from the land and sea. The region between the Maule and Itata Rivers also happens to be home to some of the best surf on the planet.
Unfortunately, the south-central coast of Chile is also the heartland of industrial forestry production of lumber and paper pulp. Celulosa Arauco y Constitución (CELCO) is the giant of the forestry and pulp industry and operates four large-scale pulp mill factories. The toxic byproducts of pulp manufacturing are discharged directly into the ocean containing solid waste and harmful chemicals including chlorine and organochlorine products like dioxin (a cancer-causing agent).
In 2009, despite intense protest from local communities and environmental organizations, CELCO built a 50 km pipeline in 2009 to discharge waste from the Nueva Aldea plant, along the Itata River, and then out into the ocean. The pipeline has had several engineering flaws, and spills are suspected. This region near the Itata River is where many fishermen catch the seafood that is a staple of the local coastal community diet. The Itata River provides water for more than 40,000 small farmers. It is also adjacent some of the most impressive left point breaks in Chile.
With the pipeline built and the plant at full operating capacity, the water quality testing will provide an independent, scientifically valid assessment the plant’s impact on riparian and marine life, on the local communities that, in many cases, consume seafood on a daily basis, and on the people who recreate in the ocean.The results of the testing will then be used in advocacy efforts to hold CELCO accountable and to force them to change their contaminating ways through advocacy and possible legal action.
“The pulp mill industry has been getting away with polluting waterways in Chile for too long now. It’s time to hold them responsible for the ecological and social damage they cause. This water quality testing is a very important step towards doing just that,” said Katie Westfall, Environmental & Program Director of Save The Waves.
Beyond water quality testing, the Campaign will provide environmental education and stewardship and advocacy opportunities for the residents of the central coast of Chile. A series of beach and river valley cleanups will be held in early 2012 to remove accumulated trash including debris remaining from the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. We will be documenting and sharing this work to bring more awareness to the campaign for clean water and coastal conservation.
Your contribution will help us to work towards clean water and strong communities in Chile. Click here to donate to the “Fuerza Chile!” Campaign. Make your tax-deductible donation just in time for the end of the year.
Thank you to all the donors for their continued support of Save The Waves’ environmental work in Chile, as well as for humanitarian aid work following the 2010 earthquake and tsunami: Marisla Foundation, Patagonia, SIMA Environmental Fund, Norcross Foundation, Morgan Family Foundation, Tourism Cares, Quiksilver, Volcom, Hurley, Alpine Ambitions, Powder Quest, Charles Englehard, Rob Machado Foundation, Joan Casey, Simone Bond, Morningstar Anton, Richard Ferrer, and many others.
About Save The Waves’ Chile Program
Since 2006 Save The Waves has operated a coastal stewardship program in Chile. The main focus has been fighting pulp mill pollution along the coast south of Santiago between the Rivers Maule and Itata. In this region, two large pulp mills dump harmful byproducts of pulp production directly into the ocean. Using capacity building trainings, stewardship and advocacy efforts, video documentation, and water testing, Save The Waves and partners are working to protect coastal and marine resources.
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