Thursday, March 27, 2008

The ongoing case of Record Batteries

A complicated tale of law, science, sick children, environmental concerns, and politics is playing out in El Salvador's legal system.

Regular readers of this blog will remember the situation of Record Batteries -- the company which operated a facility for recycling lead acid batteries in the western part of El Salvador. El Salvador's health ministry shut down the plant last September. The closure followed a campaign by environmental groups, human rights organizations, politicians and media stories. (More here).

While that action may have been the end of the factory, it was only the beginning of legal proceedings. Investigative journalist Jorge Avalos described in a lengthy article how the closure had been filled with legal gaps, and, perhaps more seriously, the sudden closure left a warehouse full of partly processed toxic materials creating a new environmental hazard.

Now prosecutors in El Salvador have brought criminal charges against the plant directors and the environmental engineers. The three plant directors have apparently left the country, and El Salvador has sent an alert to INTERPOL, calling for their arrest.

Meanwhile Record Batteries has taken its case to the Internet. The company has created a web site which lays out its side of the case, and provides the environmental testing which it claims refutes the supposition of authorities that lead levels in the blood of local children come from the operations of the plant.

This case is a test for El Salvador about the abilities of its legal system and its ability to have environmental regulation to protect its citizens. The country is not getting a passing grade.

UPDATE

Joe DeRaymond, an activist who frequently writes about issues in El Salvador, published a lengthy piece today in the Dissident Voice focusing on the Record Battery case and the 2009 elections.

4 comments:

El-Visitador said...

How facile it is for a negligent government to persecute the investors, entrepreneurs, and engineers of the company that used to recycle 282 cubic feet of lead daily from used batteries, equivalent to 70% of all discarded automotive batteries of El Salvador.

How guilty the envirowacko lobby is, now that all of the sudden, no-one buys all of those 300,000 discarded lead batteries/yr, which will inevitaby result in unsafe, primitive home lead workshops such as this one that poisoned an entire family in Santa Ana.

For the poisoned families of the workshops, and the barrancos, and the rivers, and the ostreros, filled to the brim with un-recycled lead, no one will shed a tear. Because there won't be any political hay to be made of big bad business.


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Record needed to be regulated or fined and sued for civil damages. Closing it is the grotesque act of an irresponsible ARENA government and the predictable result of a politiziced environmental movement.

Tim said...

E-V -- do you know the date of the article about the family in Santa Ana? I notice that the article is on a web site hosted by the ILMC, which is a trade organization of the lead industry.

HODAD26 said...

EV is coorect, they should have been regulated, and had gringo style management and engineering, not guanaco style
and fined, cleaned up etc.
closing was a shame due to just what he indicated, more recycling needs to be done in El Sal of course, and especially in regards to loss of wetlands-species depletion in breeding grounds etc
[my fish rant again, lol]
but it is true

India and even Bangladesh recycles PLASTIC
and maybe w/ Funes and the other new left leaning style leaders in Latinolandia, such as Chavez, Fidel's Bro, Evo and the NEW guy in Chapinolandia,
the will embrace the cultivation of HEMP,[read the facts you foolish,brainwashed catholic and evangelical hypocrites]
as the only hope for many of our problems and a salvatiopn for the american farmers

El-Visitador said...

«do you know the date of the article about the family in Santa Ana?»

No, I don't know the date. Probably from the late 90s or early 00s. Note there is a reference to ¢, which means it is from the pre-dollarization period or a few short years afterwards.

I don't think the date is relevant. As soon as Record stopped offering cash and free pickup to all auto workshops in the country for old batteries, discarded batteries began to:

(a) Be dumped in barrancos and river creeks

(b) Be dumped in municipal dumps, perhaps to be burned (!) or recovered by the families that comb El Salvador's dumps (!!!)

(c) Because now there is no competition from Record, primitive home-based lead workshops can now pick up discarded batteries for pennies or for nothing at the auto workshops, and there is no Record competition for completed home-lead-shop rebuilt batteries.

The home-based lead battery shop market is booming. Rest assured that home poisionings such as the one from Santa Ana that the envirowackos don't care about are about to come back, with a vengeance.