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Castilla Thermal Power Station, Chile


The Castilla project was initiated by MPX/E.ON, a joint Brazilian-German venture aiming to construct one of the biggest and most polluting thermal power stations in Latin America. The project also involves the development of an associated port to supply fuel (coal and diesel) for the operation of the thermal power station. Planned for northern Chile, the plant aimed to supply energy mainly to the mining industry. Both projects requested environmental permits separately and several irregularities and pressures from the government in the approval process of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the projects were denounced. Local farmers, fishermen, EJOs and congressmen actively opposed the project because of the negative impacts it would bring for health and the environment. Legal measures were undertaken and the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the Castilla project, stating the port and the thermal power plant needed to be evaluated together, and reaffirming the constitutional right to live in an environment free of pollution.

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Castilla Thermal Power Station, Chile
State or province:Atacama Región
Location of conflict:Copiapó
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Coal extraction and processing
Thermal power plants
Ports and airport projects
Specific commodities:Electricity

Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The thermal power station would have produced 2354 MW of energy.

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Project area:730
Level of Investment:4400000000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:2000
Start of the conflict:12/2008
Company names or state enterprises:Brazilian-germany joint venture
Chilean subsidiaries
For the thermal power station - CGX Castilla Generación S.A.
For the maritime port - OMX Operaciones Maritimas Ltda.
Relevant government actors:Regional Health Authority of Atacama, Environmental Commission, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Economy, Intergovernmental Committee for Expediting Investment Projects
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales (OLCA), Junta de Vecinos de Totoral, Mesa Social Contra Termoelectrica Castilla, Comunidad Agrícola Totoral, Confederación Nacional de Pescadores Artesanales (CONAPACH), Asociación Regional de Municipios (ARMA), Unión Vecinal de Copiapó, Movimiento Pro Defensa de las Costas de Atacama, Federación de Estudiantes Universitarios, Oceana
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Social movements
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impactsHealth impacts due to air pollution
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:After several social mobilizations and the use of legal avenues, the project was stopped by the Supreme Court. This case is emblematic for several reasons, as the ruling prioritised the precautionary principle, making a decision before damage could be caused by the industry, and deciding for the first time in favour of the constitutional right to live in an environment free of pollution.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Ley 19.300 & Ley 20.417 (environmental Law),

Resolution N ° 254, 2010, COREMA III Region

Constitución Política de la República de Chile

General Law of Urban Planning and Construction (LGUC), Decree-Law No. 458 of 1975,

Law No. 19.880, which establishes the bases for Administrative Procedures Governing Acts of State Administration Bodies,

Supreme Decree No. 47 by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, under the General Ordinance on Urbanism and Construction (OGUC) of 1992,

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

General Controller of the Republic, 2011, Report on the Special Investigation of Regional Ministerial Secretary of Health of Atacama

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

EIA Castilla thermal power station:
[click to view]

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Atacama Sin Carbon
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Atacama Sin Carbon
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General Comptroller Republic of Chile Report on Castilla:

EIA Castilla maritime port
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Oceana videos:
[click to view]

TVN News:
[click to view]

Video of Totoral Community:

La Tercera Media TV:
[click to view]

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Meta information
Contributor:Barbara Galetti
Last update08/04/2014
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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