Last update:
2019-09-25

Aurá dump and the struggle of Belém's informal wastepickers, Pará, Brazil

The Lixão do Aurá has been one of Brazil’s most problematic open-air dumps, causing in particular air and water pollution. It remains frequented by catadores who - amid Belém's ongoing waste crisis - continue struggling for their rights and dignity.


Description:

The Aurá dump, situated at the outskirts of Pará’s capital Belém, in the neighboring city Ananindeua, has been one of Brazil’s largest and most controversial dumping grounds. It was officially closed down for domestic waste disposal in 2015, following a new act in the country’s solid waste policy (Lei 12.305).

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Aurá dump and the struggle of Belém's informal wastepickers, Pará, Brazil
Country:Brazil
State or province:Pará
Location of conflict:Ananindeua
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Urban development conflicts
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Gas flaring
REDD/CDM
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Industrial waste
Recycled Metals
Carbon offsets
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Aurá dump was opened in 1990, initially as a landfill that then degraded to an open-air dump. It is located 19 km east of Belém’s center, in the Águas Lindas neighborhood of the city of Ananindeua, in close proximity to Rio Aurá. The location is problematic in that  it lies within the Environmental Protection Zone of Belém (created three years after the opening of the dumping ground), characterized by soft soil and a floodplain, and is home to at least 200 families and the quilombola community Abacatal. [4][5a] [9] [21] The waste dump covers an area of 120 hectares of which a quarter has been used as waste fill area. [12]

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Project area:120
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:1,824 (wastepickers according to 2013 census) + local communities
Start of the conflict:1990
Company names or state enterprises:Conestoga-Rovers & Associates (CRA) from Canada - Managed CDM certified biogas capturing project in Aurá
Central de Tratamento de Resíduos Guajará (CTR Guajará) from Brazil - Was supposed to modernize Aurá landfill in 2012 and prevented access to waste pickers, but contract was canceled due to irregularities.
Revita Engenharia S.A. from Brazil - Concession holder of Marituba landfill
Guamá Resíduos Sólidos from Brazil - Managing Marituba landfill
Vega Valorização de Resíduos from Brazil - Involved in Marituba landfill
Solvi Participações from Brazil - Involved in Marituba landfill
Relevant government actors:Municipal governments of Belém, Ananindeua and Marituba
State government
Ministério Público Pará (MPPA; Public Prosecutor’s Office of Pará)
Environmental Attorney
Centro de Apoio Operacional do Meio Ambiente do Ministério Público (CAOMA)
International and Finance Institutions Nordic Environment Finance Corporation from Norway - Participates in the Aurá Landfill Gas Project
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Associação dos Catadores do Aurá (ASCA)
Associação de Catadores da Coleta Seletiva de Belém (ACCSB)
Movimento Nacional dos Catadores de Recicláveis (MNCR; National Movement of the Pickers of Recyclable Materia)
CataAmazon
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Informal workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Wastepickers, recyclers
Women
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil erosion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Fires, Global warming
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Displacement
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Corruption
Institutional changes
Court decision (undecided)
Migration/displacement
Negotiated alternative solution
Repression
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Under negotiation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:Researcher André Farias was among those to reject Belém’s plans to reopen the Aurá site for waste disposal, calling it an environmental crime and incompatible with Brazil’s solid waste management plan and environmental licensing process. Instead, the only way out of the waste crisis would be to set measures to drastically improve the selective collection of waste in the metropolitan area, avoid privatization of waste management, and initiate a transparent process to find a new site, as indeed both the Aurá and Marituba area should remain closed and be remediated. [28]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The experiences of the Aurá and Marituba landfills show a series of political failures in waste management, which has caused environmental pollution for decades and thereby particularly affected the local population. People who depend on waste-picking remain amongst the most disadvantaged and face an ongoing struggle for social rights and dignity.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[12] UNFCCC (2004): CLEAN DEVELOPMENT MECHANISM PROJECT DESIGN DOCUMENT FORM (CDM-PDD).
[click to view]

[1] Fonseca, J. (2017): Aviliação do fechamento do lixão do Aurá do município de Belém/PA. Congresso ABES, Fenasan 2017.
[click to view]

[6] Soares, C.; Conceição, L. (2012): Problemas causados pelo Lixão do Aurá. VII Connepo, Palmas, 2012.
[click to view]

[5b] IPEA (2013): Situação Social das Catadoras e dos Catadores de Material Reciclável e Reutilizável. Brasília.
[click to view]

[7] Imbira, B.; Rebeka, J.; de Sousa, R.; Cattanio, J.; Louzada do Couto, L.; Mitschein, T. (2018): Estimates of Methane Emissions and Comparison with Gas Mass Burned in CDM Action in a Large Landfill in Eastern Amazon.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[3] MNCR (2014): Catadores do lixão do Aurá lutam por trabalho e cidadania. 20.05.2014. Online, last accessed 20.08.2019.
[click to view]

[4] Furtado, A. (2014): Lixão do Aurá: Fim do segundo maior lixão do país. Blog de Adrielson Furtado, 09.03.2014. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[13] Blog Folha do Aurá (2014): Os catadores do Aurá pedem SOCORRO! APOIO E SOLIDARIEDADE do povo de Belém. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[6] Soares, C.; Conceição, L. (2012): Problemas causados pelo Lixão do Aurá. VII Connepo, Palmas, 2012.
[click to view]

[9] Ecodebate (2012): Belém/PA: Chorume do lixão do Aurá ameaça lençol freático. 11.09.2012. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[10] Machado, I. (2010): Lixão do Aurá estaria poluindo reservatórios. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[14] Diário do Pará (2019): Lixão do Aurá ainda recebe resíduos. 13.07.2019. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[11] UFPA (2017): Estudos revelam que a emissão de gás metano no Lixão do Aurá é equivalente a queima de 34 mil hectares de floresta. 05.12.2017. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[17] Vilar, L. (2016): UFPA lança site dos catadores de materiais recicláveis da região metropolitana de Belém. 01.09.2016. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[19] Bitencourt, A. (2014): Catadores protestam contra fechamento do lixão do Aurá. Blog Folha do Aurá, 22.01.2014. Online, last accessed 20.08.2019. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[20] O Libral (2019): Manifestantes fazem caminhada e prometem acampar em frente ao local. 31.05.2019. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[22] Conexão AMZ - O Liberal (2019): A volta do lixão do Aurá. 30.05.2019. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[23] Diario Online (2015): Lixão do Aurá: o problema permanece. 29.09.2015. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[16] Globo G1 (2015): Catadores continuam recolhendo lixo no Aurá, na Grande Belém. 31.07.2015. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[24] Globo G1 (2019): Instituto Evandro Chagas presencia despejo de resíduos e presença de catadores em lixão desativado no PA. 12.07.2019. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[30] TJPA (2019): Perícia definirá valor de tratamento do lixo. 27.08.2019. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[26] Globo G1 (2018): Promotoria ajuíza nova ação contra as empresas do aterro sanitário de Marituba. 16.01.2018. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[29] O Liberal (2019): Célula de tratamento de lixo será criada no Aurá. 02.08.2019. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[2] Roda do Lixo (2013): O "lixão do Aurá" e e suas consequências. Blog Roda do Lixo, 28.06.2013. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[5a] Tropico em Movimento (2018): Os catadores de resíduos sólidos do Aurá e as perspectivas para a categoria. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[28] Dias, J. (2019): Pesquisador diz que retomada do lixão do Aurá traria problemas graves. O Liberal, 01.06.2019. Online, last accessed 27.08.2019.
[click to view]

[7] Imbira, B.; Rebeka, J.; de Sousa, R.; Cattanio, J.; Louzada do Couto, L.; Mitschein, T. (2018): Estimates of Methane Emissions and Comparison with Gas Mass Burned in CDM Action in a Large Landfill in Eastern Amazon.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

MNCR - Demonstration 2014
[click to view]

Lixão do Aurá: A crise humanitária
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EnvJustice Project (MS)
Last update25/09/2019
Comments
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