The Monitoring Committee (CA) of the Term of Adjustment of Conduct (TAC) of Hydro, in Pará, held its 24th meeting, on the 31st of May. The main agenda was the status of the term of reference for carrying out epidemiological, clinical and laboratory studies on residents of the communities involved, an action provided for in item 2.1.1C of the TAC. After approval of the term of reference between the signatory parties, selection will be opened to hire the legal entity (company or institution) that will carry out the studies.
The meeting was attended by new members of the CA, concluding the choice of ten civil society representations. Updated information was also presented on the last stage of payment for the food card (item 2.1.2) and on the investment in expanding the water distribution service in Barcarena (PA), provided for in item 2.1.4 of the TAC.
Epidemiological, clinical and laboratory assessment – For the presentation of the main agenda, Hydro invited its environment and community health manager, Diogo Chevalier, in addition to the pharmaceutical-biochemist Andressa Santa Brígida and the toxicologist Flávio Zambrone, company consultants. The guests contextualized the independent audits of the TAC, detailed item 2.1.1C (epidemiological, clinical and laboratory assessment) and the services that must be provided in accordance with the terms of reference.
Initially, pharmacist-biochemist Andressa Santa Brígida presented concepts on epidemiology and epidemiological studies. The services provided for this item of the TAC, as the researcher explained, are divided into two stages: the first comprises the bibliographic research on health in the region that will be studied and the elaboration of a research protocol, to be approved by the Ethics Council and Research; and the second stage will be the implementation of the research protocol by sampling the population groups of the communities for clinical and laboratory evaluation.
Then, the doctor Flávio Zambrone presented answers to the questions previously sent by the CA regarding this term of reference. The doctor clarified that the studies will be developed throughout the coverage area defined in the TAC to assess possible impacts, considering a methodology capable of investigating the facts that occurred in February 2018, despite the time that has passed. He also explained that the biological materials (hair, blood, etc.) to be collected will be proposed, together with other tests that will be defined, according to analysis, by the contractor to carry out the study and the research will include pregnant women and children as well, since the they constitute segregated groups of the population.
The head of representation 1, from quilombola and traditional communities, from civil society, Mário Santos, asked for clarification on the parameters of reliability in the service to be contracted for carrying out the study and also suggested that universities and other research institutions be involved. “How can an allegedly investigated person say how to be investigated? This starting, doctors, from the question of the reliability of the result”, questioned the representative.
In this regard, Alunorte's representative on the TAC Monitoring Committee, Edson Maciel, replied that civil society's concern regarding the deadlines and credibility of the audits is legitimate. Edson Maciel also reinforced that this process is not unilateral and that there is a governance of the State and Federal Ministério Público and the Secretaria de Estado de Meio Ambiente e Sustentabilidade (SEMAS).
The head of representation 6, Elidiane Cardim, also asked for the participation of technicians from other signatory parties to the TAC, such as SEMAS and the MPF, to facilitate the discussion in the CA on this topic.
The representative of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) in the CA, Eduardo Gonçalves, informed that the Technical Committee does not have specialist members in the epidemiological area, but he had the support of his Environment and Cultural Heritage Chamber to evaluate the elaboration of the term of reference. Gonçalves also informed that it was agreed between the signatories of the TAC the possibility of hiring an external consultancy to evaluate the proposals presented by the companies and institutions that participate in the selection process.
The head of representation 2, Jackeline Sales, asked for clarification on a series of questions: on the ease of finding, in Pará and Brazil, laboratories, preferably from public institutions, qualified for this type of study; she asked if the term of reference contemplates the particularities of the Amazon and if Hydro's team of consultants has experience in the region; whether the term of reference considers different parameters in the evaluation of the presence of heavy metals among workers in chemical industries and the rest of the population; and how the epidemiological studies to be carried out will adopt parameters for comparison with previous results and other reference communities.
“In Brazil there are three or four laboratories capable of performing metal tests correctly. It's a very complex exam. I don't know of public laboratories that are enabled for this. What you can do is use a local structure to collect and send the samples out for examination. But all this will be proposed in the research protocol to be approved”, explained Zambrone.
The doctor also informed that he has experience with research on contamination by heavy metals in the Amazon region since the implementation of the Grande Carajás Program, for mineral exploration in southwest Pará, in the 1980s, providing consultancy services to governments and private companies. He pointed out that researcher Andressa Santa Brígida is from Pará and that specific issues in the region, such as greater consumption of fish, consumption of local water and land use, will indeed be taken into account when carrying out the studies.
Regarding parameters for different layers of the population, as well as the comparison with other studies and other populations that are not influenced by an industrial hub, such as that of Hydro, the doctor Flávio Zambrone reinforced that these are methodological issues, to be detailed in the research protocol of the company or institution that will be selected.
The alternate of representation 4, Fabiano Azevedo, highlighted the urgency of carrying out the epidemiological assessment and asked about the deadlines for implementing the action. In this regard, it was informed that the MPF approved the latest version of the term of reference and the document is now being evaluated by Semas. “Deadlines are flexible, because we will have two hires: the company that will evaluate the work plan; and the company that will execute it. The minimum period is five months to start the studies, but this can be extended due to methodological issues in the work of the contractors”, said the environment and community health manager at Hydro, Diogo Chevalier.
Vera Nascimento, deputy for the first representation of civil society, stressed that the work to be carried out in traditional and quilombola communities must follow a protocol of prior consultation with the populations, in accordance with Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, and suggested that members of the communities can monitor the execution of studies, in accordance with what is allowed by technical and scientific standards.
New members – At the meeting, the new members of the Board, Vagner Ferreira and Ereny Anjos, were officially introduced, chosen for the tenth representation of civil society in the committee, which corresponds to the communities of the Arapiranga, Mucura and Onças islands, in Barcarena. The selection process was carried out in person, between March and April, with two workshops: one on Ilha Arapiranga, which also brought together residents of Ilha Mucura; and another on the Island of Jaguars.
With the entry of these new members, the representation of civil society in the TAC Monitoring Committee was completed with ten members and ten substitutes, representing 77 communities in Barcarena and Abaetetuba, in Pará, who participated in the selection process.
Food card – On May 25, Alunorte's principal representative, José Edson Maciel, sent an email to the members of the Board informing them that the last installment of the last payment stage of the food card (item 2.1.2 of the TAC) would be paid on May 28, 2022, in addition to informing that the next action of the signatories will be to evaluate the remaining balance of this action, corresponding to the beneficiaries who did not present themselves until the 4th of July. This information is also available on the TAC website.
Vera Nascimento, representative of civil society, suggested extending the deadline and identifying which communities are the people who have not yet gone to get the cards, so that they can be mobilized. The suggestion, reinforced by other members of the CA, was forwarded for discussion between the signatory parties.
Water – Regarding Item 2.1.4 of the TAC, which determines the investment of up to BRL 5 million for the creation of alternative systems for the treatment and distribution of drinking water, the executive secretary of the CA recalled that the latest updates were sent by email by the Attorney of the Republic Maria Olívia Pessoni Junqueira to the members of the committee, informing the history and latest movements on the free and informed prior consultations with the quilombola communities, as well as on the dialogues with the City Hall of Barcarena and the concessionaire Águas de São Francisco. In response to the email from the MPF, the head of the representation of quilombola communities in CA, Mário Santos, informed that there was still no contact to carry out the prior consultations.
Next meeting - The next regular meeting of the TAC Monitoring Committee will be on July 26 and will have as its agenda the update on the application plan of fines paid to the State Environment Fund (FEMA) and update on item 5.1 of the TAC, which deals with the independent audit for the Emergency Action Plan.
Participants of the 24th Meeting of the TAC Monitoring Committee:
Members of the Monitoring Committee present:
- Eduardo Gonçalves – Federal Public Ministry – holder
- José Edson Maciel – Alunorte Alumina do Norte do Brasil S/A – holder
- Eduardo Romano Bustamante – Norsk Hydro Brasil – holder
- Marcos Lobato – Chemical Industry Workers Union of the Municipality of Barcarena (Sindquímicas) – alternate
- Mário Santos – civil society representative – Region 1 – holder
- Vera Nascimento – civil society representative – Region 1 – alternate
- Jackeline Sales – civil society representative – Region 2 – holder
- Fátima Solange – civil society representative – Region 4 – holder
- Fabiano Azevedo – civil society representative – Region 4 – alternate
- Rozemiro Brito – civil society representative – Region 5 – holder
- Amauri Figueiredo – civil society representative – Region 5 – alternate
- Elidiane Marinho Cardim – civil society representative – Region 6 – holder
- Rosa Maria Dias da Silva – civil society representative – Region 7 – holder
- Elisomar Barreto – civil society representative – Region 8 – holder
- Vagner Carvalho – civil society representative – Region 10 – holder
- Ereny Anjos – civil society representative – Region 10 – alternate
- Diogo Chevalier (Environment Manager)
- Andressa Santa Brígida (Technical Consultant)
- Flávio Zambrone (Technical Consultant)
Team of the Executive Secretariat International Institute of Education of Brazil (IEB):
- Edane França Acioli
- Paulo Pantoja
- Raphael Castro
Source: Executive Secretariat of the TAC Monitoring Committee