El daño de Cerro Matoso es mayor

178
Mina de Cerro Matoso.

La Corte Constitucional sentenció a esta empresa a reparar los perjuicios ambientales y a la salud que por muchos años le ha causado a varias comunidades; para algunos, falta mucho…

Juan Carlos Hurtado Fonseca
@Aurelianolatino 

Hace dos semanas, la Corte Constitucional expidió un fallo contra la cuarta mina de níquel más grande del mundo, Cerro Matoso, operada por la transnacional BHP Billiton, ubicada en el departamento de Córdoba, que la obliga a indemnizar a varias comunidades afrodescendientes e indígenas aledañas.

Dentro de la Sentencia, la Corte argumenta que se calcula que la producción de níquel de Cerro Matoso asciende aproximadamente a 3.200.000 toneladas de mineral del cual se extraen 40.674 toneladas de ferroníquel por año, y que la extracción minera funciona las 24 horas del día durante todo el año. “La potencialidad de causar daños ambientales se advierte en el número de hornos que integran el complejo industrial, la cantidad de partículas que emiten al aire, así como el volumen de agua que es empleado.

“La exposición al níquel causa daños importantes en la salud humana, los animales y las plantas. De conformidad con la bibliografía científica disponible en la materia, contrario a lo sostenido por la empresa demandada, la exposición a determinados niveles de níquel ocasiona graves perjuicios a la salud humana, los cuales van desde afecciones cutáneas y respiratorias, hasta la producción de cáncer de pulmón y abortos espontáneos. De igual manera, se reportan daños en plantas, animales y ecosistemas en general”.

Las decisiones

Teniendo en cuenta lo anterior, la Corte Constitucional ordenó entre otras medidas a la Dirección de Consulta Previa del Ministerio del Interior que, con la participación de la empresa Cerro Matoso, en coordinación con el Ministerio de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible, y el Ministerio de Salud y Protección Social, en un plazo máximo de un año, realice una consulta previa con las comunidades Bocas de Uré, Centro América, Guacarí-La Odisea, Pueblo Flecha, Puente Uré, Puerto Colombia, Torno Rojo y el Consejo Comunitario de Comunidades Negras de San José de Uré, en la cual se establezcan medidas de prevención, mitigación y compensación ambiental respecto a los perjuicios que pudiere ocasionar la continuación de las labores extractivas de la empresa.

Entre las estrategias específicas de protección a adoptar se deberán incluir medidas tendientes a la descontaminación del ecosistema; la adopción de métodos técnicos que impidan el levantamiento y la dispersión de material particulado; la restauración de la cuenca hídrica del Caño Zaino; el restablecimiento de la capacidad productiva de los terrenos afectados; la recuperación del paisaje; y el aislamiento del complejo minero mediante barreras artificiales o naturales.

También le ordena brindar atención integral y permanente en salud a las personas que se encuentren registradas en los censos del Ministerio del Interior como integrantes de estas comunidades y que padezcan alguna de las siguientes enfermedades: cáncer de pulmón, atelectasia plana, silicosis, linfangitis carcinomatosa, neumoconiosis reumatoide, nódulos calcificados en el pulmón, enfermedad pulmonar obstructiva crónica, dermatitis, bandas parenquimatosas, síndrome de Caplan, sarcoma pulmonar, fibromas, niveles elevados de níquel en sangre u orina, engrosamiento de la cisura pulmonar, mesotelioma, lesiones pruriginosas, pitiriasis u otras afecciones de salud que tengan relación con las operaciones extractivas de la empresa.

Por su parte, uno de los más de diez abogados de las comunidades demandantes, Abelardo de la Espriella, expresó que se enfrentaron a grandes poderes económicos, que fueron víctimas de amenazas, y que el fallo generará implicaciones en el mercado mundial y en la explotación del níquel, como ya se ha advertido en el comportamiento de las acciones de ciertas empresas luego de la emisión del fallo.

Según De la Espriella, ahora sigue un proceso penal por daños en la salud y las afectaciones físicas que han sufrido miembros de las comunidades y extrabajadores de la empresa: “Desde hace muchos años, los directivos de Cerro Matoso sabían que el níquel envenena. Es más, en las bolsas que hoy se exporta dice que puede ser tóxico para la salud, pero ocultaron la información para mantener un negocio que produce cerca de un millón de dólares en utilidades diarias. Les importó más a esos directivos el dinero que la vida de las personas que viven en las zonas aledañas a la explotación. La causa penal la vamos a llevar hasta el final porque no solo nos importa que indemnicen, sino que los directivos paguen con cárcel porque por tantos años ocultaron la verdad para envenenar a la gente. Este es el proceso indemnizatorio más grande de la historia jurídica de Colombia y puede pasar de los 400 millones de dólares”.

Los trabajadores

A su vez, el sindicato de trabajadores de Cerro Matoso, Sintracerromatoso, se pronunció a favor de la decisión. Según este, son indiscutibles y claras las afectaciones de la polución y el material particulado a las poblaciones y a los 870 obreros que hay actualmente: “A los trabajadores los afecta más. Son evidentes la dermatitis, los cánceres de pulmón, las enfermedades de pulmón. Actualmente hay 53 trabajadores diagnosticados con enfermedades laborales, más los que han salido de la empresa enfermos, pero sin un diagnóstico que diga que es una enfermedad laboral. Además, en los últimos años han muerto más de 20 trabajadores por cáncer. En los últimos meses de 2017 murieron varios obreros también por cáncer”, explica el dirigente de Sintracerromatoso Jorge Galvis.

La problemática es tan grande que en varias oportunidades el sindicato ha puesto sobre la mesa con la administración de la trasnacional, el tema, aunque sin encontrar las soluciones adecuadas.

“También tuvimos una reunión en el Ministerio de Trabajo donde le dijimos a la empresa que reconociera los riesgo de la exposición a esos materiales, pero ellos decían que el Gobierno debía limitar los valores límites tolerables de esas sustancias. Lo que no dicen es que las sustancias cancerígenas no tienen un límite en su uso, al estar expuesto hay riesgo, sin importar la cantidad ni el tiempo de exposición; una parte por millón o muchas partes por millón es riesgoso. Alguna vez un médico de la empresa dijo que el problema no era que la empresa reconociera eso, sino que el problema era que no tenían plata para reconocerlo…”, explica el líder de Sintracerromatoso.

Aunque para algunos el fallo es ejemplar, organizaciones como el sindicato dicen que el daño causado es irreparable y es mucho mayor. Aun así, se sienta un precedente en un país en el que las multinacionales han hecho lo que quieran con las comunidades, los ecosistemas y los trabajadores, muchas veces con la permisividad de entidades estatales.

La mina de Cerro Matoso se ubica en el departamento de Córdoba y produce ferroníquel, aleaciones de hierro y níquel. Es operada por la BHP Billiton y tiene reservas estimadas para 15 años. En diciembre de 2013, el Gobierno colombiano extendió el contrato de operación hasta 2029.

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