Five quarries affect more urbanizations
They have been fighting for years for a war that until now cannot be solved and that increasingly sickens and annoys the inhabitants of the way to the coast.
Along the Perimetral Chongón stretch, there are 17 quarries, of which, according to EXPRESO in October, then Environment Minister Humberto Cholango, 14 have no environmental license, which forces them to operate without control.
The residents, whose annoyances have been published by this newspaper on several occasions, claim to have lived with allergies for years and unable to sleep, listening to the falling pieces of stones on the roofs every time there are explosions and witnessing those endless clouds of dust that are formed, they say, at any time of day.
“For years the presence of these places have forced us to live in a minefield, where you only hear the boom, boom, boom, as if we were in a war …”. If the noise they provoke, which in fact has diminished, warns Carlos Pástenes, administrator of the citadel Vía al Sol, it is precisely because the fact was reported to the authorities. And although the measure has somewhat subtracted their discomfort, they do not feel satisfied.
They, like the representatives of the federation of road citadels to the coast, recognize that the quarries first arrived in the area, but they say that when they sold the houses they told them that the works would end in 2015. “Then they lied to us, we have been abandoned by all, “laments Guillermo Ayala, member and president of the Puerto Seymour administration.
“The Ministry of the Environment that does not close them, still knowing what is happening; the Municipality of Guayaquil, which through the Environment Directorate does nothing, claiming that the responsibility belongs to the Ministry; and the same Ministry of Health, which despite acknowledging, through a report in 2011, that the population lived with respiratory conditions and nervous deafness, did nothing. ” Everyone, the members agree, have some guilt.
To this, adds Pástenes, the fact that the Cabildo has allowed the lifting of the urbanizations. “If you knew what they were causing and that they were going to stay here longer, then why did you allow the area to urbanize?”
Experts consulted by this newspaper agree on the lack of planning, but that is no longer news. We have to think about tomorrow. “Already the location of the quarries is not viable on the way to the coast due to the high population density. The Constitution of the Republic guarantees the right to the city, which establishes the environmental quality of cities, and that is not being fulfilled here, “observes the master in regional urban planning and dweller of the Luis Alfonso Saltos coast.
The complaints of the residents have reached almost all instances. Portal al Sol, one of the residential complexes that almost borders a quarry, already denounced in 2016 the effects that these generate, among them, that 20,000 square meters of a protected area are being exploited.
“The Arcom and the Ministry of Environment confirmed it, but nothing has been done either,” says Ayala. Other residents, such as Mina Quiroz, of Valle Alto, emphasize the public statement that Mayor Jaime Nebot made on September 20, requesting Ambiente “a prompt and concrete response that indicates and defines which decisions and coherent, logical and practical measures , as well as when they will really be implemented “, regarding the problem.
“If the mayor did not listen to him, it’s worse for us,” he laments. “They have mocked our face. Maybe when there are more sick people or when the mountain loses all its forest, act. “
EXPRESO looked last week to the Ministry of the Environment, from where on Friday afternoon it was notified that the requested answers on this topic are arriving today.
The problem of quarries has been addressed by all the authorities without having a concrete solution. And not because there is no legal basis. In municipal ordinances, which govern since May 1985, it is specified that builders who use machinery for the performance of their work and produce noise and vibration that can cause mental or physical disorders to workers and neighbors in general … they must request the corresponding permission from the mayor, who will grant it by establishing the number of hours that the machinery must operate, and they must also install silencers, vegetable screens to reduce noise, but “none of that exists”.
The director of Environment, Bolívar Coloma, responds with an undeniable argument: not everything is on his court. Within the Geoportal of the National Mining Cadastre of the Mining Regulation and Control Agency (Arcom), 36 mining concessions have been published in the sector of the route to the coast, 33 of these are non-metallic (limestone) and arid and stony materials; and 3 mining areas of arid and stony materials of Municipality competence.
“Of the three mining areas of arid and stony materials, one has an environmental permit for the exploitation phase, and the other two are not in extractive phase.
The director of Urban Planning, Appraisals and Territorial Planning, José Miguel Rubio, has said on more than one occasion that the problem on the way to the coast lies in the fact that the competences are divided.
Until this month there were non-metallic quarries ruled by Arcom that have now changed their extraction mode to arid and stony, which automatically puts them in the hands of the Municipality and Guayaquil, and, therefore, under the lens of regulation and ordinance which regulates the quarries, approved last year.
This is core. These are extraction zones located in front of urbanizations such as Porto Alegre, Portal al Sol, and even the Hypermarket.
With this, eight quarries are added to the only active that was under the tutelage of the Cabildo. Of these, only three comply with the 200 meters of distance that a place of extraction must have with respect to an urbanization, says the head of the Department of Quarries of the Municipality, Geovanny Balladares. That is, the remaining five will have to go back or close.
Planning expert Luis Alfonso Saltos is skeptical. Those 200 meters do not completely erase the effects of health or heavy vehicles that transit: “The incompatibility in the use of land in the area cannot be solved with a patch to show that something is done. The root of the problem will remain. “
As regards aggregates and stones, no new concessions have been issued from the Municipality, by a presidential decree.
The new ordinance of the quarries regulates and authorizes, controls and sanctions aggregate and stone quarries.
The Ministry of the Environment notified that today it offers answers via email on this subject to EXPRESO.
What solution would you give to the issue of quarries along the coast?
Jimmy Jairala Democratic Center – Democracy Yes
The lack of urban planning continues to take its toll, especially on social and environmental issues. On the way to the coast there are settlements that are located very close to the quarries, a situation that hurts thousands of families. The exploitation of open land affects the health of citizens and the quality of the air. Therefore, it is necessary to implement regulatory measures with the purpose of taking care of the environment and the well-being of the neighbors. Human development and the environment will be the central axes of my administration.
Cynthia Viteri Social Cristiano – madera de guerrero
Beyond the responsibility that the State assumes through the Ministries of Environment and Mining, together with the Mining Regulation and Control Agency (Arcom), we will ensure that the competent entities comply with their obligations and respond to complaints from citizens, not only on the way to the coast, also in the cantonal territory. In my administration, the Environment and Urban Planning, Appraisals and Territorial Planning directions will intensify the controls, using technological tools such as drones, satellite mapping and measurements of environmental quality.
Eduardo Argudo, Ecuadorian Socialist Party
In Guayaquil, my rights will be closed quarries and mining operations that are less than 30 kilometers from populated areas. Human health and ecological rights above the business of quarries. My Mayor will assume the corresponding municipal responsibility and will demand from private companies the restoration and repair of the rights of the people affected. We will dictate ordinances for the prevention and restoration of human rights and nature.
Francisco Jiménez CREO – Health and Work
Regarding the activity of the quarries on the way to the coast, we will verify that they are operating with the corresponding permits and that they comply with all the technical standards. If necessary, with the base of the municipal zoning we will propose a Popular Consultation so that the inhabitants of the sector can pronounce directly on the subject. We must not forget that the road to the coast is a pole of residential and commercial development, with an ecotourism and environmental potential that must be preserved. We will watch over the health of the many families that live in the sector.
Édgar Salazar, mayoral candidate for the Concertación movement
The quarries that are in the way to the coast produce a serious environmental impact of pollution, this dates from the year of 1970, approximately, impact that has not been overcome until today. I believe that it is essential to apply new modern extraction techniques that are friendly to the environment, otherwise the right to good living should be weighed The residents of the area have a high percentage of chronic cardiorespiratory diseases due to public health statistics, unable to do anything about this sad reality.
Octavio Suárez, mayoral candidate for the Pachakutik movement
Regarding this issue, before exploiting a sector, it will be necessary to carry out a geotechnical control of the area to measure the impact it will have and minimize it to the maximum.
Likewise, we will establish that special machinery be used for dust collection, noise reduction, irrigation and proper cleaning of contaminated soils. The environment will also be reforested.
Every six months, in addition, we will update the regulations that regulate mining activities in order to include new technologies that contribute to the care of the environment.
Martha Macías – Patriotic Society
The problem of the quarries is a demonstration of the improvisation with which one acts in our city. The quarries arrived first that most of the urbanizations that today suffer the evils that these generate. How the Municipality granted them the permits for its construction? These mining operations are necessary for the development of the city, but it is necessary to verify if they are properly concessioned, complying with the established technical parameters and environmental regulations, otherwise they will be closed.
Jorge Villacreses – United Ecuadorian
It is essential to verify the mining cadastre. The Municipality of Guayaquil may have granted concessions and the directors of Town Planning, Appraisals and Land Management and Environment should be audited during my administration. We will officiate the authorities as prosecutors to act if the regulatory agencies of the Ministry of Mines and the Mining Regulation and Control Agency do not close the illegal quarries. We will take care of the protective forest, we will protect the health of the guayaquileños from the coast.
Gino Cornejo – Adelante Ecuatoriano Adelante
From the quarries, which are under municipal responsibility, the permits will be reviewed in order to evaluate the terms in which they have been granted and if they are complying with the required technical parameters. Likewise, a study will be updated to determine the impact of this activity on the environment and thus offer prevention and rehabilitation measures for the exploitation areas. The action of the Mayor’s Office will be focused on the welfare of the people, since they are the main affected with allergies and diseases.
Juan Manuel Bermúdez – Libertad is Pueblo
Quarries are among the competences of decentralized autonomous governments. If someone reported that it is the Mining Regulation and Control Agency which controls, it did so to misinform and elude responsibilities … The Municipality can control and regulate. If the corresponding permits do not exist, the extraction site must be closed. In addition, it must obligatorily verify the environmental issue for the operation of a quarry, without which you cannot grant permits.
Jaime Lomas, mayoral candidate for the movement Together We can
It cannot be the case that 14 quarries operate without environmental licenses, as the minister in charge indicated months ago. The owners of the quarries must abide by a broad environmental and municipal regulation to obtain the respective licenses. We will then rigorously apply the fulfillment of the ordinances. It is urgent to measure the impact that this activity has generated on the health of the inhabitants and their homes. The mitigation of the impact when developing the activity is key, since the exploitation, fulfilling the norms, ends up being a licit activity.
Patricio Buendía, mayoral candidate for the SUMA movement
We are carrying out an environmental impact study and the determination of noise pollution caused by quarries to road dwellers to the coast. Subsequently, taking into account the results of this study, if these are negative for the population, as mayor I will sanction what is established in the Constitution and the municipal ordinances that regulate the exploitation of quarries, and we will even work on repairing the damage to the environment and we will close the companies that do not adhere to the parameters.
Carlos Cassanello, mayoral candidate for the Social Justice movement
The problem lies in the concessions granted before the Municipality declares this area as an urban area, therefore the exploitation of aggregates and stones and the exploitation of other non-metallic elements must be evaluated. In addition, it is vital to exercise control in compliance with environmental licenses issued by the Ministry of the Environment; of the creation of a report on the affectations, issued by the water authority; and the execution of an affidavit stating that the activity will not cause harm, as said the art. 26 of the Mining Law.
José Inca, mayoral candidate for the Democratic Left party
The studies carried out by consulting firms in the mining exploitation area, carried out in January 2018 with drones in the sector, would be reviewed. Then, according to this study, it will be verified whether the quarries that do not comply with the municipal ordinance and the respective permits are closed or not, among them, the environmental management plan applied by each quarry will be controlled, as well as the exploitation processes, meet the required guidelines. With this, the inhabitants would avoid the physical, visual and auditory contamination that harms them.
Jorge Coppiano, candidate for the Ecuadorian Union movement
The ecological system and the reserves that we have in the geographical matter have taken a very excessive form in the exploitation of these quarries. The dynamiting that is done affects. There are also farms that do not benefit the city. There are invaders. There are companies that are taking these parts that, geographically, are to protect us from the winds and tides. This is unprotecting us. There are hills that are eliminated. This has to be counteracted and outlined to the Government that handles the geographical issue. That laws be issued.
Bolívar Rosero, mayoral candidate for the Alianza País movement
These would be closed, given the urban and population growth of the city. It is public knowledge that the activity of the quarries has always been questioned by the inhabitants that inhabit the environment. Despite the fact that the detonations are made with technological devices, it is no less true that the inhabitants of the nearby urbanizations experience unbearable noise disturbances on a daily basis, thus affecting children and adults. The Municipality, which through the Cantonal Council authorizes exploitation, has the obligation to exercise control over them.
Balerio Estacio – Force Ecuador
Ecuador is a constitutional state of rights and social justice. Article 1 of the Magna Carta. Regulation and mining control agencies allow illegal quarries, which operate in reserve areas. As mayor, I will administer in accordance with the law, applying the territorial zoning plan of the Municipality. I will review Resolution 255 for its application. Quarries that do not meet the parameters of the law. It is also up to me to regularize, authorize, control, sanction or extinguish mining rights for the exploitation of arid and stony materials. (I)