The law reform 3,308 which allowed the offshore hydrocarbon activity of the province had a strong influence on San Antonio Oeste and Sierra Grandetwo of the localities that base their economies on the nature they protect San Matias Bay.
is that there the first investment will be allowedwhich will consist of an oil port to be built in the mountain town of export of hydrocarbons which by pipeline will arrive from Vaca Muerta.
with this landscape reactions are mixed. the neighbors of sawpressed by the lack of job opportunities, almost overwhelmingly support the arrival of oil in the area.
those of San Antonio, Las Grutas and Puerto San Antonio Este, on the other hand, supported by fishing and tourism, warn about the consequences that unforeseen environmental circumstances could cause that affect the wealth of the Persian Gulf. And they are almost unanimously opposed to the entry of the activity.
“You have to understand what arrival is YPF represents Sierra Grande. This is not an advertisement, this is a projection of growth and development for a a city that is postponed for 30 years. It is a society of children and old people because the children graduate from high school and leave given the impossibility of obtaining any activity that would guarantee their livelihood,” Renzo Tamburini, the mayor, told Rio Negro.
“That’s why this project is so welcome in the Sierra Grande. Families are used to the constant dismemberment, with men leaving and returning only to their relatives, because this is a very complex reality. With mining stopped and no fishing in the area, the majority board or go to work outside. It is a community dependent on the statewhere the rest live off employment in some government department,” the official expanded.
“What generates the most foreign exchange is tourismhe continued. But there will be no affect because the company knows environmental steps to be takenand no one will allow a single security incident to be missed,” noted Tamburini.
And added whatSierra has long been preparing for this industrial developmentand we have put together a regulatory package that protects our environment, coastline, flora, fauna, condor and mountain range,” he assured.
The locals seem supportive these suggestions. Nestor, for example, is visiting because he works in Puerto Madryn and his ex-wife and son Gael live in Sierra. “Of course there must be control, but sources of work are needed, because they all have to migrate. Such an opportunity will give new life to the area, so I agree and support the gas pipeline,” he noted.
Another one who supported the idea was Mariela. She works in the municipality and, together with her teenage daughter, has not seen her husband for months, who left at the beginning of the year. “I hope it will work. There is a lot of need here. Y I am not afraid of spills because now there is another technologythey will be able to do better. But we need to get back to work,” he stressed.
The one who put the emphasis on need for controls This is Carlos Arce. He works in various “changas” and assured that “it can be a very good thing for people”. But as the son of Fidel, this remembered leader, who died of cancer affected by PCBs in the transformers that years ago were still active in the city, was very precise about the need to protect the environment. “They should do it without affecting anything“, he opined.
the other view
The need of environmental protection He is the one who reveals San Antonio.
In the city a multi-sector composed of neighbors and NGOs that they do not rule out going to court to stop the YPF project from happening.
“A spill is something that will inevitably happen. Oil is a dirty business and when that happens the fishing and tourism we all live on will be damaged forever. By activating an activity, they will oppose what already exists. Instead of generating sustainable proposals that co-exist without harming”, assured Suyay Quilapán, one of the neighbors who integrate the group.
To determine the steps to follow, a few days ago its members held a zoom meeting with a Lawyer specializing in environmental law. And they continue to promote activities to make visible the rejection of the changes in the law, whose main promoters are the local youth.
In fact, organized by the student unions, there was last Wednesday protested in front of the school entrance of teacher training.
And on Friday, they marched as part of a student strike that, as one of the driving forces behind the protest, led to rejection of changes in the regulatory framework.
Tourism, alert and concerned
The voices that were raised from various areas related to tourism activities expressed concern about empowerment hydrocarbon activities for the area.
A large number of tourism providers rejected the idea outright leaving open the possibility of going to court if the YPF project advances on the banks of the Rio Negro.
“Cancellation seems to be the only way out. I really don’t know how we can implement it, but that the destruction of San Matias Bay with a possible spill could be fatal. What will we sell? Who will want to come on vacation?” said Carlos Rivas, one of the leaders of the Association of Non-Hoteliers, which provides the most beds in the sector.
from the hotel They also rejected the changesand they coincided with the need to do something to prevent projects like the ones YPF has for the area from happening.
“They lie with this ‘we starve or we pollute’ because you have to think about sustainabilityand not in things that contradict what we already have in order to create jobs,” says businesswoman Analija Izko.
“It is very sad what is happening -he continued-, Justice does seem to be the option to turn this around. Our legislators voted on changes to this law behind closed doors without any conviction to protect our interests and gave us very few days to organize as a society,” he concluded.
Angler scared of the possible strike
“We have to take care of the fishing resources. They must not forget that San Matias Bay is a “small vessel,” a spill occurs and the consequences would be dire. Also, because of what they show, the YPF project wants to put it in an area near Punta Pórfido, and there is a hake reproduction area there. There is a fishing ban for this sector, but other banks where we take the fish are fed from there. Damage there would be a blow to the extraction of the species”.
With these words, Esteban Achilles, a fishing boat owner in the San Antonio Navy, analyzes the changes that will allow the hydrocarbon activity in the zone.
“Everyone wants to have a job, but you have to analyze things. Do the relevant research. Not voting for the sake of voting and opening the oil just like that, in a place like this”, the man thinks.
His opinion coincides with that of marine biologist Raul Gonzalez. “Governments should be more interested in what we need to contribute from the scientific community“.
González assured that “the preliminary information we have about Punta Pórfido for example is that this is a critical area not only for hake farming but also for other species. And if they want to promote yes or yes hydrocarbon, you need to know how an incident will affect you and what scope there will be to develop mitigation strategies,” he stressed, worried about the possibility of hydrocarbon activity developing in the area and the possible consequences of that.
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