According to a report from the General Audit Office (AGN, for its acronym in Spanish), the regulatory body of the National Airports System (ORSNA) took six years to advance the studies of environmental impact generated by the activity of the air terminals in the country.
The ORSNA was created in 1997 within the Ministry of Economy and currently operates under the aegis of the Ministry of Transport of the portfolio of Federal Planning.
The airports are concessioned since 1999 by the company Aeropuertos Argentina 2000. Since then, the ORSNA "should achieve effective protection of the environment and public safety in the area of the operation and expansion of airports," says the audit.
To determine the impact of airport operations, the Agency should, first, define what is known as environmental liabilities, i.e., damage to areas of the terminals registered prior to making the award by the company. These studies, called Phase I consisted of visiting and evaluating the characteristics of the establishments and collect documentation and evidence of possibly effects.
Before effectuating the concession, in 1998, it instructed the National Water Institute (INA) conducting the Phase I studies to establish the environmental baseline. The Audit notes that, between 1998 and 1999, the company conducted the survey EMR Argentina Phase I at each airport; and aspects like presence of dumps, oil spills, hazardous waste disposal, noise and gas pollution, PBC and presence of asbestos, volume collection systems and sewage treatment were evaluated.
The findings were raised by the ORSNA to the Ministry of Environment. In 2000, this agency said that the Phase I "full of irrelevant details, left significant gaps regarding the intended purposes, the format (the work) is not the proper technical reports, no evidence integrated methodological guidelines, lack comprehensive description of some (airports), it presents inaccurate, unreliable and based on secondary sources, and does not fully characterize the establishments, so many aspects are not determining, for example the operation of waste treatment plants " states the AGN, adding that, according to Environment, the diagnosis "was not clear."
That same year, the Ministry of Environment began using a nomenclature that for the Audit "brought some difficulties." It was different environmental liabilities, identified as previous damage, therefore outside the responsibility of the dealer, the latent liabilities, which would be in charge of Aeropuertos Argentina 2000. The problem was that the concept 'latent', referring to previous impacts, "could be interpreted that were in charge of the Argentine State," says the AGN.
Just in 2002, the ORSNA stopped using passive latent concept and established as environmental liabilities, to landfills, transformers with PCBs, oil spills in water and soil, and contamination of water bodies before making the concession. Furthermore, the company would correspond that to the sewer system, treatment and disposal of liquid and hazardous wastes, fuel storage and driving rain.
With this data, the AGN, which adopted its report in April on data for the period 2004 to October 2008, acknowledged: "We emphasize that the ORSNA solved the discussion of the nomenclature, developing a commendable job of mediation. However, it is the duty to observe the lateness and inadequacy regarding the definition and the total resolution of preexisting environmental liabilities with more than ten years into the concession."
Years later, Phase II
The Audit Office summarized the work done between 1998 and 1999 by EMR Argentina for Water Institute was "inadequate and incomplete", incorporating the concept of 'passive latent' by the Department of Environment in 2000 "delayed the process "and that a remediation plan that was tried in 2001" was shelved, so the ORSNA only since 2005 initiated Phase II studies," from Phase I, determine contamination levels and techniques most appropriate to address them remediation. Phase III, meanwhile, is designing a remediation plan and monitoring.
While ORSNA made reports on the state of environmental situation of airports, the audit said that "some critical aspects of such work are not included." For example, in Ezeiza international terminal, fuel storage plants, origin and destination of effluent into the storm drains, drainage and sewerage network source and destination of industrial effluents was obvious. While in the Aeroparque Jorge Newbery it was overlooked the origin and destination of the effluents from the storm drains and the source of groundwater contamination.
Of those studies, the AGN sees a "recurrence of environmental deficiencies are not remedied," adding that considers itself ORSNA be settled "297 of the 625 deficiencies detected in 2004-2008, representing 47% of the total."
According to the AGN, seven out of 10 environmental shortcomings identified by the ORSNA correspond to problems related to hazardous waste. Therefore, the Agency drew up a list of possible generators of this type of waste and instructed Aeropuertos Argentina 2000 to examine both Ezeiza and Jorge Newbery to verify the observations and detect new breaches. The problem for the audit, is that "the model contract that provided ORSNA dealer to contract services to third parties (such as engine repair), does not include specific provisions on environmental matters penitential facilitating the sanction" of irregularities.
The auditors completed their report stating that "ORSNA, as a body with jurisdiction to impose penalties, has not applied any sanction the concession holder on environmental matters."