Although the Industrial Restructuring Program (PRI, for its acronym in Spanish) is to "make changes in industrial processes in order to prevent and control pollution" of the Salí Dulce river, the General Audit Office (AGN, for its acronym in Spanish) detected that the Secretariat in charge of the program had not upgraded the water pollution records and that they never asked for the loans available to the project.
The PRI is a program under the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (SAyDS, for its acronym in Spanish), the pollutant companies of the Salí Dulce River voluntarily adhered. Its basin involves the provinces of Córdoba, Santiago del Estero, Catamarca, Salta, and Tucuman. The latter "plays a fundamental role, since the water that supplies the other provinces is originally from there", with the exception of Salta.
To carry out the program that was signed in 2006 between the SAyDS and the Province of Tucumán, the Agreement on Industrial Restructuring where "the basic guidelines and the functions of the national and provincial agencies are established for compliance”.
The report, published in 2012, states that "of the 90 companies in the industrial park in Tucumán there are over 20 companies that have the potential to contaminate the watershed capacity", among which stand out the most pollutant companies, like the sugar mills, agricultural activities, and citrus pulp and paper industry.
The AGN detected that SAyDS "didn’t know if all the companies met with the installation of a liquid waste treatment plant", as defined by law and whose performance was to be controlled. The Secretariat also verified whether PRI companies "have the corresponding required legal certificates such as Environmental Aptitude assessments and environmental impact studies." In fact, the report notes that "the signs of last updated records of the degree of contamination of the Salí Dulce River date back to 2008."
In June 2008, the SAyDS "signed an agreement with the Bank of the Nation for the implementation of a credit line intended for industrial restructuring programs", in order to obtain, for example, capital goods and infrastructure. To access it, the Secretariat should assess the possibility of the realization of each event and then propose to the bank financial support. Up to the end of the audit, in July 2010, "they had not yet implemented funding."
On the monitoring of the actions envisaged in agreements with the companies, the watchdog said it was "limited and discontinuous." The information was also "partial and biased, since it only reflects reports by companies without the data of the Cleaner Production and Sustainable Consumption Secretariat and some of the other agencies of the province."
The federal watchdog noted that in the cases examined during their investigation "no document produced by SAyDS was found". In this observation the auditors added that "no reports analyzing the feasibility of the goals set by the companies assessed progress against the indicators and parameters set out in the agreements." The existing documents "include percentages of committed goals and only a brief explanation of delays," so it’s clear the reports are incomplete.
The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development only made one progress check on each company during 2008. Monitoring tasks were suspended from March 2009, even though firms continued to submit their progress reports to the Ministry of Environment of Tucuman and it continued its inspections.
Furthermore, the Directorate in question “was conducted by three directors in 31 months, and the current administration doesn’t have information of the actions taken by the other administrations of the PRI."
The auditors, on their visit to the Secretary of Environment of Tucumán detected that the equipment for the laboratory of the Directorate of Tucuman of Environmental Audit, delivered by the Secretary of Environment "could never be put into operation because the electrical system was not satisfactory". They also reported that "the laboratory was not authorized by the municipality."
During the fieldwork, which evaluated the period from March 2007 to September 2010, the AGN requested the Secretariat to inform the list of administrative and judicial environmental cases against companies adhering to the PRI. The audit answered "about the existence of four complaints." However, because of alternative procedures, the watchdog detected other cases filed by the Ombudsmen of Tucumán, Santiago del Estero, and the Federal Government, just to name a few.
According to the audit, “the sugar mills, with or without alcohol distillery is the main economic activity in the province of Tucumán with twelve installations. This type of production is "the biggest polluter, generating solid, liquid, and gaseous effluents."
Moreover, in Tucumán there is a cellulose pulp and paper manufacturing plant, as a result of the undesirable chlorine bleaching process, the factory emits large amounts of dioxins, furans, and other compounds "with properties that are toxic to humans."
In the province, which is the second largest producer of lemons, there are seven related establishments in which waste (peels, seeds, skins, and gases) produced by burning boilers that operate with gas and fuel oil are generated . In these factories, "the main polluting effluent is liquid" and is made up of citric acid, traces of essential oils, among other waste.