The Beacon

Victory! 2nd Coal-Fired Power Plant Defeated in Chile

Sea lions in the waters off northern Chile. © Oceana/Eduardo Sorensen

For the second time in less than a year, Oceana has helped to defeat a coal-fired power plant on the coast of northern Chile. The CAP company announced last week that it was withdrawing its plans to construct the Cruz Grande thermoelectric power plant.

Cruz Grande was slated to be a 300-megawatt thermoelectric power plant in the region of La Higuera in Northern Chile, a few miles from the Choros-Damas and Chañaral island marine reserves, and near the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, which is home to the world’s largest population of Humboldt penguins. The region also hosts communities of bottlenose dolphins, marine otters and many marine birds and mammals, including blue whales.

These creatures and habitats were at risk from the plant’s emissions, which would have arrived quickly to the reserves. The plant would have used the area’s seawater to cool the plant, discharging it back into the ocean at higher temperatures. Oil spills from ships carrying coal to the plants would seep there in a few hours, and the local currents would retain the pollution within the area. Plus, mercury emissions from the plants would contaminate fish and mollusks like the Chilean abalone, damaging a crucial local industry.

Oceana is now calling on the Chilean government to speed up the designation of a Marine Protected Area in La Higuera and Chañaral Island in Northern Chile, and to promote renewable energy sources to gradually replace coal-fired power plants.

This victory follows on the heels of our dramatic win last August, when Chilean President Sebastiàn Piñera announced that the Barrancones thermoelectric plant would be relocated after a massive groundswell of grassroots opposition, led by Oceana and our allies.

Congratulations to our Chilean colleagues and everyone who helped win this huge victory for the oceans and the communities who depend on them!


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