Alcohol (ethanol or bioethanol) was a very useful tool during the pandemic, we use it massively to clean surfaces and the hands of our families because it quickly destroys the coronavirus membrane. But, just as there is “good» alcohol that saves lives, there is “another” alcohol that makes people sick.
Porta Hnos. has its industrial plant on Av. Valparaíso in the city of Córdoba, and only a fence separates it from the houses of Bº Parque San Antonio. Vinegars and alcoholic beverages are made there and brought from Tucumán. In 2012, a gigantic factory that distills alcohol by fermenting corn was put into operation in that same place. From that moment on, the life of the residents of the area became a true torment.
Map of the San Antonio neighborhood and location of Porta Hnos. Bioethanol Plan
At the request of the population of San Antonio, from the University Network of Environment and Health (REDUAS) and together with teachers and students -mainly from the Chair of Pediatric Clinic of the UNC-, we carried out a survey on the health situation of this population in 2013, and we did it again in 2016.
The results of these studies were presented at the X International Conference on Public Health of the School of Public Health of the UNC, and at the 38th Argentine Congress of Pediatrics of the Argentine Society of Pediatrics in 2017. We found that the neighborhood is sick. More than 60% of the population suffers from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome, a disease generated by the emanations of the fermenters of the distillery, emanations mainly made up of formaldehyde, hexane, toluene and xylene.
As if these conditions were not enough, there was a significant increase in children born with severe malformations in families living less than 100 meters from the distillery, as well as a worrying increase in cancer cases.
A few days ago the international scientific journal Journal of Biosciences and Medicines, in a special edition on allergy and human immunology, published our research under the title: Sick Neighborhood Syndrome (https://doi.org/10.4236/jbm.2022.104009). But despite the convincing evidence of the damage to collective health and the sustained claim for 10 years by the residents of the sector, the bad alcohol distillery of Porta Hnos. S.A. is still functioning.
Alcohol distilleries are located in unpopulated places throughout the world, except in the city of Córdoba. Gasses released by the fermentation process do not rise into the atmosphere, but remain in their lower layers near the distilleries, polluting the air around the plant at times of day when thermal inversion is generated. This is a practically daily phenomenon. In addition, the permanent danger of explosion indicates the preventive need to move the plant away from populated places.
Of course, a distillery of this magnitude (produces 100,000 liters of bioethanol per day) located in the middle of the countryside requires a very significant infrastructure investment. Porta Hnos distillery did not need this investment in infrastructure since running water for the people of Cordoba flows right through its door (it consumes 700,000 liters of water per day). They also use the network of sewers, natural gas and electricity from the urban infrastructure. The company built its distillery there because it was much cheaper and because agribusiness has enormous political influence in the Province to have environmental impunity.
This distillery does not have an Environmental Impact Study and violates national, provincial and municipal environmental laws, but continues to operate, increasing the profits of Grupo Porta and making the population of Parque San Antonio, Barrio Inaudi and Inaudi Annex sick. Even in the lightest Environmental Impact Study of the distillery, its toxic and explosive character would be evident, which would determine the need to dictate its definitive closure and transfer.
The residents of the sector gathered in the VUDAS organization presented a Collective Environmental appeal before the Federal Courts of Córdoba, Judge Hugo Vaca Narvaja ruled in the ruling that the Porta Hnos plant violates the regulations and mainly lacks an Environmental Impact Study , for which it ordered that this study be carried out within a peremptory period of 90 days.
But the judge only recognized the obvious crime and did not suspend the operation of the plant that pollutes the area and sickens the inhabitants. The company quickly appealed the ruling and continues to operate without carrying out the Environmental Impact Study, which inevitably would force it to close. They are taking advantage of the endless times of justice which is friendly to agribusiness, justice that means injustice and pain for that sector of the city.
In this scenario, the neighbors of the Vudas group will continue to fight for their right to life and a healthy environment and will present their claims wherever necessary. The Porta Group is associated with a Swedish Multinational that provides technology for its distilleries. It is unlikely that the Swedish of Alfa Laval know how they are causing disease and killing people with their technology in the Southern countries of the world.