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Greenpeace activists confront fracking industry pollution in Patagonia, Argentina

Neuquén, Argentina – WEBWIRE

Forty Greenpeace Argentina activists are currently blocking the entrance to a toxic waste facility in Patagonia, with banners bearing the messages “Stop Fracking Patagonia” in Spanish and English, calling for an end to the oil age.

The activists are blockading the entrance to a landfill site owned by Treater S.A., where waste from fracking operations of oil companies including Shell and Total has been illegally dumped directly onto the ground, close to a residential area and to one of the region’s major water supplies.

“We are here to expose the negligence that companies like Shell and Total are operating under here in Patagonia. With this peaceful action, we are preventing the trucks from entering the site with toxic oil waste, as well as its dumping in the landfill. We demand that Shell, Total, and other oil companies stop using these illegal facilities,” said Natalia Machain, Executive Director of Greenpeace Argentina. “The toxic waste from the extreme fracking here risks poisoning waterways and making children sick, all while pushing our global climate even closer to irreversible catastrophe.”

The toxic landfill site, equivalent in size to 15 football fields, is used by oil companies that are fracking Patagonia. Local regulations require that hazardous waste treatment or disposal facilities be at least 8km away from people and towns, and at least 5 km away from bodies of water and crops. The landfill is also located 5 km away from the Añelo community, 4.9 km from agricultural fields and 3.7 km from the Neuquen River, which infringes Neuquen’s Provincial Law, and Argentina’s General Law on Environment.[1][2][3][4][5]

Last December Greenpeace Argentina, as part of a global campaign called People Vs Oil,  published an investigative report revealing that the 13.6 hectare toxic landfill is in violation of the regulations as required by Neuquén’s Provincial Law.[6] The report details how the toxic waste is being dumped directly on the soil without proper drainage, without a lining between the waste and the land, and with no waterproofing system in place.

“Shell, Total and other oil companies continue to use Treater’s site to dispose of their waste, even knowing of the serious pollution that our investigation exposed. This is yet another example of how international oil companies are operating in Patagonia — this cannot continue being a sacrifice zone,” concluded Machain. “All around the world, from the Arctic, to the Amazon Reef and beyond, people are rising up against extreme oil production and calling for a just energy transition. Companies like Shell and Total are at the forefront of blocking climate justice. With only 11 years to avert irreversible climate change, we must demand these companies be held to account.”

In October, the Mapuche Confederation of Neuquen filed a criminal complaint against Treater and some of the oil companies using the facility to call on the Public Prosecutor to investigate potential criminal liabilities. This investigation has commenced and is still ongoing.



1-  Art 39 of the Neuquén Provincial Decree N°2263: (Spanish)

2- The National Law of Hazardous Waste: (Spanish)

3- Furthermore, during the investigations, Greenpeace took samples of soils in the region  in which high levels of pollution were found. This shows the lack of protection and a direct pollution on the soils and potentially on groundwater. Hydrocarbon and volatile components were found in the waste, that might reach communities close to the landfill.

4- After publishing the results, Greenpeace wrote to the CEOs of the company that collects the hazardous waste and to the oil companies involved demanding their position. Treater claimed that their operations are legal without considering the findings.

5- Greenpeace Andino investigation can be found here and a brief can be found here.

6 – The landfill does not have an adequate drainage channel, it is full and overflowing, and the bottom and sides are not covered with a waterproofing system (in contravention of Article 23, Chapter III of the General Directorate of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Draft regulation of Law No. 1875).

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