Chile Fights Critical Air Pollution in Santiago

Photo: Air pollution in Santiago de Chile.

(Photo: Air pollution in Santiago de Chile. Credit: Aaron Mccoy/Getty Images) Several media in Latin America warned yesterday that Santiago, Chile's capital city, is having its worst time in terms of air pollution since 1989.

In the current year, the government has declared six pre environmental-emergencies, a state in which it forbids the circulation of 360 thousand vehicles, stops the operation of over 800 industries, and forbids the use of chimneys in households. But that seems not to be enough, and pollution is causing society and political sectors to remain dissatisfied.

Besides the city's geographic location, one of the reasons for the raise in air pollution is the energy crisis in Argentina: as this country has diminished its gas exports to Chile --which imports the totality of natural gas it consumes; all industries had to migrate to diesel and oil as power source. But some political sectors blame environmental Minister Ana Lya Uriarte for the failure in this fight.

::Via La Nacion newspaper.According to La Nacion, the pollution matter is causing political moves towards Chile's environmental Minister. The paper informs Uriarte was called by the Deputies Chamber to speak about the effects of the environmental crisis and her responsibility in it, and also said that a group of deputies are planning to present an appeal against her.

Meanwhile, effects in health are already showing in society: La Nacion also informed that the number of consults and hospitalization of children with breathing problems has duplicated.

When the news came out yesterday, president Michele Bachelet spoke in public and called Chileans to cooperate to improve Santiago's situation. "The Mayor's Office is doing its best but if the plans are not accompanied with effort and commitment from citizens, we cannot do magic," said Bachelet, according to El Mercurio.

Besides the mentioned prevention measures that are taken when an emergency is on sight, the government is now studying to install filters in public vehicles and trucks, regulate or forbid wood and biomass stoves, and establish multi-million bills for industries.

::Chile looses fight against air pollution (La Nacion newspaper, in Spanish)
::Michele Bachelet calls to fulfill restriction measures to diminish contamination (El Mercurio, in Spanish)

Further reading on the energy crisis in Latin America:
::Challenges for Argentine and Latin American Energy in Winter
::Gas and Nuclear-Power Talk Between Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia During Recent Summit
::Chile Seeks Alternative Energy Options in California

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