“He told me that the fine did not matter”: the accounts of inspectors against ENAP in a trial for Iranian crude | bbcl_research

—(The manager) approaches me and tells me what he was measuring for, that the fine or what happened to the company didn’t matter, since being a state company, it was all Chileans who were going to pay.

Two testimonies once again put the National Oil Company (ENAP) in its sights. This, in the middle of the trial that is substantiated against six executives of the state company for the massive poisonings experienced in mid-2018 in Talcahuano, Quintero and Puchuncaví.

These are the stories of Catalina Ponce and Patricia Jelves, environmental engineer and biologist, respectively. While the first was in charge of the Environment of the Municipality of Quintero at the time of the facts, the second was working as an inspector of the Superintendence of the Environment, Valparaíso Regional Office.

In his statements – to which the BioBioChile Research Unit– The professionals say that ENAP failed to report the arrival of Iranian crude oil with high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide the days prior to the emergency.

But there is more: they also suggest that the odors that they perceived inside the company correspond precisely to those experienced by the population in the affected communes. Ponce even accuses that one of the firm’s executives was totally unconcerned about the situation, arguing that the fine “didn’t matter” because “all Chileans” would end up paying it.

“Viscous liquid”

When the emergency broke out, Catalina Ponce was in charge of the Environment of the Municipality of Quintero. Under this position, the official – who arrived in 2015 from Santiago and after having practiced it in the building – was in charge of the first steps to determine the origin of the emissions. Schools had already been evacuated and patients were already approaching the health centers of the industrial cordon.

His testimony was presented on November 10 and 11 just last year before the Oral Criminal Trial Court of Concepción, where the case is being conducted.

According to what he said, in the midst of the environmental crisis that was looming over the commune, he appeared together with other inspectors at the Quintero Maritime Terminal, belonging to ENAP.

It was there that he perceived an odor “annoying, heavy, that did not allow breathing.” In the professional’s opinion, it was the same one that had been perceived the day before in Quintero at the beginning of the emergency.

According to his testimony, the stench was more evident in the vicinity of some state pools.

“We first went to the Remodeling site, where there were two pools, with a dark, very dark, viscous liquid compound, and it was a similar smell, the same, to that of Tuesday that was felt in Quintero. I remember that smell, because It is a smell that I have not felt again: it is a very peculiar smell, a heavy smell, which did not allow you to breathe normally “he testified.

“Nothing was reported to us”

Ponce declared that in the middle of the tour they asked if there was a different process in the terminal:

“We were not informed of anything, since Sergio de la Barrera (head of the Superintendence of the Environment of the Valparaíso region) repeatedly asked if there was a different process, because the smell that existed was very characteristic, annoying, not allowed you to breathe Sergio de la Barrera asked it several times, to which they never informed us of anything different or of any different compound, nothing”.

Asked if the smell could be from another compound other than hydrogen sulfide, such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), Ponce replied:

“It is different, this smell is different from sulfur dioxide, SO2 when there is a peak you breathe in and your mucus burns, and your throat itches, it is a different smell, but it does not prevent you from breathing. This smell, which was felt on Tuesday, and which was felt again intense on Thursday, is a smell that did not let you breathe.

“Those who were going to pay were all Chileans”

In another of the passages described by the engineer, she accused Patricio Farfán, one of the firm’s managers, of showing total indifference to the judicial or administrative consequences that could fall on the company.

“It must have been a Saturday, I was at the ENAP company in some offices calibrating the equipment when Patricio Farfán arrived (…) he went alone to the pool sector where they were already finishing cleaning, and I asked a person in charge of ENAP to take me to the pools to be able to monitor”, Ponce began by saying.

“At that moment I installed the equipment (…) and Mr. Farfán approached me and told me what he was measuring for, that the fine or what happened to the company did not matter, since Being a state company, the ones who were going to pay were all Chileans”he added.

According to Ponce’s version, the statements left her “stunned.” “She was next to a contractor, we looked at each other, and there are those comments that one does not know if what happened was true or one imagines it,” she explained.

“I looked at the contractor and we moved away from the sector where Patricio Farfán was, since I was monitoring and in reality they are one of those moments when one does not want to continue talking with people,” he remarked. “It was quite shocking because in part, if you look at it, it’s true. It is a state company and unfortunately, perhaps he was partly right”, he pointed out.

Related Articles:  'Swapna was asked to testify that he had conspired; Written by Swapna Suresh Allegations Crime branch Manorama News

Said statement coincides with what was stated by the inspector herself on December 3, 2020 during the investigation process, as recorded in the file of the Public Ministry. He did it before the commissioner Héctor Chaura and the prosecutor Ana María Aldana.

There he also asserted that Farfán’s position “was that since it was a state company and whatever happened, we all paid for it. He repeated it to me on more than one occasion and this phrase was very marked for me, because it gave me the feeling that they could do whatever they want. since it was a state company and nothing would happen to them. He was aware that they could get a fine but it didn’t matter, ”he added.

an unusual smell

Another of the inspectors who came to inspect the ENAP plant is Patricia Jelves. Today she also appears as a witness in the case against the executives.

The biologist from the Superintendency of the Environment of the Valparaíso Regional Office pointed out that her participation began on August 22, 2018, the day she went with her boss at that time, Sergio de la Barrera, to inspect the ENAP Maritime Terminal in Quintero .

In her statement delivered between November 15 and 16, the professional said that as soon as they entered, they both noticed a “very strong” and “intense” smell, which immediately caught their attention.

They were received at the site by the head of the terminal, Juan Pablo Rhodes, and Jaime Achardi, head of the operations area, who indicated that they were carrying out the maintenance of some crude oil tanks in the Expansion area, but nothing was said about Iranian crude.

As he narrated, the smell “was perceived everywhere but there were points where it was perceived as very intense.” Everything inside the terminal.

“I always refuted them”

Jelves assured that during the tour with Rhodes, Achardi and other officials who joined them, he asked them on more than one occasion about the annoying and intense smell.

“They always said that this smell is typical of the terminal, and I always refuted them,” he said.

“’Hey, I come every year, more than once a year, and this smell is not typical of the terminal,’” the biologist replied to the ENAP workers.

Subsequently, Jelves mentioned, they went to the sector where the API pool is located, which makes up the liquid industrial waste treatment system, where the product was deposited.

“It was a thick, chocolatey-looking mixture, similar to a chocolate mousse. Physically, from appearance, they had some stripes of white lines, but the smell was almost unbearable, ”she detailed.

“I had to get up to look inside the API pool, to be able to obviously see what was contained in it. And every time I had to get up to look inside the API pool, the smell was unbearable, irritating, very annoying and from there I started all that was left of the inspection with a headache”he remarked.

Trial could end ahead of schedule

According to information compiled by Radio Bío Bío, the trial against ENAP executives for environmental crimes could end in January 2023. That is, two months earlier than budgeted.

Sources close to the so-called Iranian Crude case mentioned that the Public Ministry is likely to renounce part of the evidence collected during the investigation, which would result in a shorter trial than expected.

The Oral Court of Concepción scheduled hearings for six months, from the start of the trial on September 8. However, given the eventual decision of the prosecutor Ana María Aldana, the process would conclude in the first month of next year.

Consulted, ENAP declined to issue a pronouncement regarding the merits of what was testified by the witnesses. Through a statement sent to BBCL Investiga, they stated that the company “does not refer to statements within a trial that is in progress.”

“Given that the trial is in full swing and that the Oral Court has not allowed access to the trial audios to third parties unrelated to it, it is not possible for us to respond to your request,” they snapped.

In this line, they indicated that the interest of the state company is “to respect the rules and resolutions adopted by the Court and not interfere in the development of the trial through opinions on evidence in progress.”

“We are confident in the outcome of the trial and that the sentence will expose the testimonies to their full extent and with their true scope. ENAP and its new administration reaffirm their commitment to transparency and probity”, they concluded.

Our comments are a space for conversation and debate. We welcome constructive criticism, but we reserve the right to remove comments or block users aggressive, offensive o abusive.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.