German Chemicals giant Bayer contaminates Brazil

Greenpeace sampling results show toxic chemicals slated for ban are being released at Bayer plant in Rio de Janeiro.

On January 22, 2001, over 20 Greenpeace activists from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, USA, Switzerland, Spain and Belgium invaded the Bayer Plant located in Nova Iguacu, state of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, to demand a zero toxic discharge commitment from the company. A new Greenpeace investigation shows that Bayer is contaminating the environment in Brazil with toxic Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) such as PCBs and heavy metals such as mercury.

A group of activists climbed the BAYER hazardous waste incinerator to stop the operations and hanged a banner stating "BAYER - Incineration is not the solution!". A 4-meter inflatable model of a foetus was floated in front of the plant gates to remind the German chemical corporation of the threats to the future generations posed by the discharge of heavy metals and POPs into the environment.

Recent Greenpeace sampling of Bayer's effluent from the plant indicate Bayer has been releasing toxic chemical into the environment such as mercury and PCBs - one of the POPs that world governments agreed to ban due to its toxicity to the environment and human health.

"We are here in solidarity to the community of Belford Roxo in Rio de Janeiro to send BAYER a very clear message: "STOP POLLUTING", said Marcelo Furtado, from Greenpeace. "The company must phase out incineration and work towards zero toxic discharge".

PCBs are industrial chemicals used mostly in electrical equipment. They harm the environment and have been classified as a persistent global pollutant by the UN environment Program. PCBs have also been linked to a wide range of effects on the health and development of both wildlife and humans including immune suppression, learning disorders and the disruption of the hormone system. Of particular concern are the toxic effects of persistent organic pollutants on young children and the developing foetus. Mercury is an extremely toxic metal. It is bioaccumulative and in organic form can permanently damage the nervous system, kidneys and developing foetus.

"Bayer are taking advantage of the lax legislation in Brazil to freely pollute the environment. This is a blatant case of double standards," said Delcio Rodrigues, Greenpeace campaign director.

The Bayer Plant in Nova Iguacu, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil manufactures primarily raw materials for polyurethane resins, veterinary and phito-sanitary products. They also provide hazardous waste incineration and landfilling services to other industries. Bayer has a very poor record in the Americas. Rio de Janeiro State Environmental Protection Agency has identified Bayer as a leading source of heavy metal contamination of the Baia de Guanabara. The plant has a history of contaminating the environment with Chromium VI. Last year the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Bayer Corporation in Baytown, TX (USA), for safety and health violations, with penalties totalling USD$135,900.