The Auditor General of the City of Buenos Aires (AGCBA, for its acronym in Spanish) sought to determine how the impact it could have on the environment was measured in both public and private enterprises. After analyzing the work area involved in the matter, and regulations with which it is handled, the watchdog said: "The current procedure forgot the purpose of the environmental assessment and became a highly bureaucratic process."

Technicians arrived at this conclusion after finding that the agency in question, the Environmental Protection Agency (APRA, for its acronym in Spanish) has no material or human resources to carry out impact controls and was granting certificates in exchange for affidavits of those interested in a venture, in a process that could take up to nine years to finalize and included the issuing of a sentence, public hearings on specific topics, and administrative acts.

APRA is the enforcement authority of Act 123, passed in 1998 and amended several times by the difficulties recorded in its implementation. One such change was in 2000, when the City issued another rule, Law 452, which identifies the activities to be monitored for potential environmental impacts. Highlighted in the list are issues such as: highways, railways, ports, airports, supermarkets, power plants, fuel dispensers, industrial parks, the coast changes, treatment plants and waste disposal, fairs, and arcades.

According to the audit, between 2000 and 2008 15,752 enterprises began the authorization request process in the Environmental Protection Agency. Of that total, the agency issued 8,660 certificates of environmental suitability (54.9%), and only 2.3% of permits, 201 cases corresponded to known and relevant effect (CRE) activities. The report adds that "delay times regarding CRE activities ranged between one and nine years."

Of course the rules also covered pre-existing activities to the enactment of Law 123, i.e., to the projects that worked before 1998. In these cases, APRA had given a deadline: June 30, 2008 for presentation of both the affidavit and the environmental adjustment plan. However, "the degree of compliance in the suitability regime is 1.09%"; 136 certificates are issued, 64 of which belong to gas stations.

With the signing of five resolutions, the Environmental Protection Agency began to incorporate gas stations to their suitability regimen. The companies that had to comply with the requirements were Petrobras, Repsol YPF, Esso, Shell, and others that were not covered by these provisions. Regarding the top four firms, there were 219 stations, of which only seven were in suitable. While the latter reached 135 establishments and the units that adapted reached 48 (see box).


For "illustrative purposes", the Audit of the City of Buenos Aires listed some projects that operate without the certificate of environmental suitability.

Activities and Public Works:


Beyond this data, and the "low level of interest of the administration management in ten years", the AGCBA concludes that "having mediated another situation, for example in industrial establishments of the Matanza Riachuelo, a different level of control could be assumed especially for monitoring pollution," and adds: "This means that the deficiencies identified by the audit can hardly reverse the time gap between effective and unmet demand."