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Fracking Argentina - Open letter to Apache corporation
Por APCA - Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2015 at 6:51 AM

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Fracking Argentina -...
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We are writing this open letter to express our opinions and criticisms in relation to Apache Corporation’s actions in our territory of Comahue, in the north of Argentinian Patagonia. Specifically, the places close to Anticlinal Campamento field, in the Barda Negra area, location Portezuelo Norte in Portezuelo Chico, in Neuquén province; and close to the Estación Fernadez Oro field in Allen, Rio Negro.

We write this open letter as human beings, whose bodies are made 75% water and survive thank to drinking water daily. In the world, more than 50,000 people die every day for drinking water contaminated by bacterias or chemicals. Globally, more than 1,200 million people lack basic water supply.

 We do not aim to request any remediation, nor to attempt any legal action. We are aware of the fact that Apache Corporation’s concessions in our territory have been bought by the subsidiary YSUR, which is accountable to YPF, which in turn is accoutable to Chevron.

The purpose of this letter is to hold Apache Corporation responsible, historically and ethically, in front of humanity, and nature, which offers us the possibility of living day after day. We wish we had the quality of life we had in our territories before your actions, but we do not want your oil-soaked and blood-stained money!

We think it is important to point out that we hold Apache responsible. We say it without technicalities, the way the people understand it, so that Apache can hear from the people’s voices that the whole community knows what Apache does and how it does so.

The people affected by its extractive activity are not only indigenous sheperds, and Creole small farmers producing pears, but also all the human beings living thank to water from the Río Negro basin and the Zapala aquifer.

Apache has not acted by itself, but with the complicity of: the provincial government of Neuquén, headed by the governor Jorge Sapag of the Movimiento Popular Neuquino party; and the governor of Rio Negro, Alberto Weretilneck, of the Frente Para la Victoria party. This kind of corrupt politicians have allowed introducing fracking, a highly polluting extractive technique, in the Latin American continent for the first time ever.

Apache has carried out this kind of actions just a few miles from the Zapala aquifer, in the Anticlinical Campamento field, within the community territory of the Mapuche people, without abiding by the corresponding procedures of popular consultation stated in ILO'S Convention No. 169, therefore jeopardizing its water quality and allocating millions of gallons of water for hydrofracking.

While it tried to ''persuade'' the community to accept the unconventional extractive regime by means of Corporate Social Responsibility projects, aimed to split the community by exerting a constant preasure upon the inhabitants who opposed fracking.

Cristina Linkopan's death, lonko of Gelay Ko community, is the tragic ending of this episode of Apache's presence in Berda Negra. Cristina was dead at age 30 from a pulmonary hypertension, probably caused by her constant exposure to hydrocarbons exploited since the last decades.

In 2011, when the conflict between Gelay Ko community and Apache was intensified, Cristina's health was destroyed by the careless way of treating the thousands of gallons of contaminated water, as well as the constant preasure and violent repression exerted by Neuquen's local police, paid by the oil companies.

This cynical ferocity accelerated our sister's death process, leaving four children orphaned in March 14th, 2013. Every year we will conmemorate this event with a communicational meaning for, in spite of our mourning, her death has been a way of passing on a spiritual legacy for the defence of Mapuche's water, air, land, life and people, and against whoever dare to damage them.

Apache's presence has also left a deep mark in Mapuche community of Winkul Newen. On October15th, 2012, the community reported an oil spilling in an Apache corporation's duct, in Portezuelo Norte field.

Not only has the demand not been heard, but two months later, on December 28th, by order of judge Ivonne San Martin (well-known for her usual rulings against the Mapuce people), a Judicial Power's assistant, together with the police and some Apache coorporation's high officers, came to the community's territory in order to allow the company to reactivate ten oil wells.
This event ended up with two Mapuche authorities arrested: Martín Maliqueo, community's weken, and Mauricio Rain, Wiñoy Folil community's lonko, apart from a teenager of the community being shot, as well as am 83-year-old native female authority being beaten.

We know that the authorities in place and companies such as Apache will expect these crimes, which have the judicial power complicity and are enforced by the Police, to remain unpunished, but the organizations and movements of the people will rise our voice to reject the historic genocide suffered by the original peoples.

Currently, the members of the community still leave in the community territory, affected by ten convencional wells and don't have access to water, nor to basic utility services
Apart from that they are victims of judicial prosecution due to the events of December 28th, 2012, i.e., for defending their homes.
Relmu Ñanuku faces charges of attempt of murder and Martín Maliqueo of damages. They are both the fathers of three children. Apache is also responsible for this!

To sum up, Apache has never cleaned up the effects of its contamination in this territory, nor ever has it acknowledged the disastrous cultural and environment impact of its activity on the community, not even on the children.

Apache's exploration and exploitation activities carried out Estación Fernandez Oro field, in Allen, Rio Negro, have coincided with the end small and medium local production of pears. The appearence in the town's urban fabric of the so-called ''oil farms'' has marked the beginning of an unbearable situation. Farms began to be occupied by drilling rigs, by being either rented or purchased.

Working the soil of a place such as Alto Valle, transforming it from a semi-arid into a fertile soil has demanded the effort of generations since the first half of the 20th century, nonetheless, due to the tight gas extraction among the fruit-growing farms, it has all been destroyed in a few years.
Multidirectional fracking has also affected the territory with an ever expanding contamination, the desastrous consequences of which we can already foresee.

They have tried to set up a lie, both the local administration and the company, that no hydrofracking was carried out in Allen. While everyday Allen inhabitants were affected by the gases emanated during the exploitation in wells, without any regard for the countless environmental and social effects, such as the pollution of aquifiers and rivers, the shortage of drinking water, the constant noises, even during resting time, the light pollution affecting fruit-tree plantations, the increase of trucks and 4x4 vans traffic, the resulting traffic accidents, the high living expenses, the drug traffic and human trafficking, ever more present in our community.

We must add the negligence in the operation of the EFO field wells, which has led to serious accidents since the exploitation began. One of them took place in the AP.RN.EFO 141 well, at 9 p.m., March 19th, 2014. The explosion due to a miscarriage caused a tremor in the nearby houses. 50 meters away from one of the houses, flames and toxic gases emanations took place for hours, leading the neighbours to have to improvise their own contingency plan, given the lack of prevision of the company and the control agents.

Rural worker don Rubén Ibañez is one of the main affected since Apache corporation began, more than two years ago, with drillings in the area located only a few meters away from his house. He has publicly expressed his fear for what might happen: ''If only the came over and experienced what we and my family are experiencing... stomachaches, headaches, we have to sleep with the windows closed''.

Officers of the now called YSUR, that still bears the fashion of Apache corporation, which has always watched over its ''good public image'', have declared there were no more risks for the environment and the inhabitatns anymore. In spite of this, the accident caused the stopping ot the activities for 10 days.

Don Ibañez and his family have suffered the consequences of a problem that the public officers and the company still deny to akcnowledge. Once again, they consist of serious pulmonary diseases, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which continues to mutilate the life of the inhabitants. Apache tried that this and other diseases of the local inhabitants remain invisible, in order to avoid its responsibility for the consequences of an extractive ativity neither planned nor demanded by the community. Apache is also responsible for this!

Another accident took place at 2 a.m. on July 14th, 2014 in the well 236. Apache had already left Argentina but venting issues were still there. This led to a new explosion and a fire in less than six months.

This time it made evident the manoeuvres unauthorized by control organisms, such as the use of gas oil in manouvers, which became clear to cause aquifiers pollution.

In both cases, the events were not kept quiet and an assembly of neighbours rised their voice in defence of their own lives, threatened by these continuous accidents.

The people of Allen has never wanted this form of exploitation in the urban fabric of their town.

The people of Allen rejacted in a city ordenance in 2013 the exploitation of unconventionl hydrocarbons in its urban fabric. This ordenance was based on the 5th article of the Municipal Charter: ''To guarantee in every way the right of the inhabitants to enjoy a proper environment for human development, preserving their health, and protecting the ecology and landscape, by means of a rational use of natural resources, considering earth, water and air as common heritage of the township, regulating its use by the community, taking proper measures to avoid contamination."

Nevertheless, this ordenance was declared unconstitutional thanks to the intervention of the gobernor himself, some months after its approval. Business with Apache has encouraged a political use of justice. If it were for the above mentioned 5th article of the Municipal Charter, they shouldn't have even begun their activities in Allen, and specially they shouldn't have kept them after the approval of the anti-fracking city ordenance.

From our point of view, all oil companies, both national and multinational, take advantage of the extraction of crude and make big monetary profits out of it, but little do they care about our most precious and essential asset as regards life in the surroundings of the river, fauna, water and complex ecosystems! This big oil-extracting machines you use and export are like modern vampires, sucking our mother earth and, due to your great negligence in their using, create destruction by means of the concomitant effects of spillings.

We believe it's high time to firmly defend our whole natural environment, our present and future life depends on that and on a greater consciousness about our life.

That's why we regard the strong and permanent movement of social-environmental causes and organizations, as well as of the original peoples, as vital and necessary. That's why we want to let you know that we have so far been determined in our struggle for decontamination and prevantion against the planet's pollution, which can only take place by means of ehtical principles of different world viewa and respect for the juridical precautionary principle.

APCA (Permanent Assembly of Comahue for the Water)

Convocatoria Segunda Independencia
Gremial de abogadas
Abogados de la República Argentina
Pablo Bergel, diputado legislatura Ciudad Autonoma de Buenos Aires (bloque verdealsur)
FUndacion Servicio Paz y Justicia SERPAJ
Foro Ambiental y Social de la Patagonia. Comodoro Rivadavia
Armando Aligia, fisico, DNI 11 632 231.

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