The Environmental Licensing Authority (Anla), involved in the 442-page report, was already aware of these findings. The document, which last May has a court, stipulates supposed errors, both disciplinary and criminal, that warn the complexity of a process that, EPM has clarified, will adopt quickly and responsibly.
The findings of the Comptroller have already been assessed by Idea, the senior partner of the project (50.7% share), and eight points stand out as the most critical for their criminal connotation.
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What do Anla and EPM say?
The environmental authority replied in a statement that "some accusations" by the Comptroller General about the Hidroituango crisis are "incorrect and do not correspond to reality". He indicated that the environmental license was not granted or authorized by the Anla, entity that was born in 2011.
"The permit was granted in 2009 by the Ministry of the Environment, Housing and Territorial Development," he said.
Anla added that there are currently nine disciplinary investigations, six of which are in the evidence phase, so they expect decisions to be taken by the end of this year.
"We do not like to create distractions, give the Anla responsibilities that do not match, try to create confusion for the same authority that conducts investigations to determine the causes of the unforeseen event," he said.
EPM said in the meantime that it is reviewing the report to make a response.
– EPM we are there (@EPMestamosahi) August 27, 2018
The report of the identity of the entity 35 administrative findings, considers this with criminal and disciplinary consequences.
"Unfortunately, you do not learn from experiences and mistakes, and it should be noted that everything that appears from the process of licensing and development of El Quimbo's hydroelectric project was repeated in this project by Hidroituango with greater exacerbations that this second project has aroused today. It has caused serious problems for the population and for the environment without the control required by the project owners, and that is why the national government had to intervene after the emergency, "says the report.
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The Comptroller also speaks of "weaknesses and errors" at the different stages of the licensing process, because it states that it has been approved "without sufficient studies and designs, detailed and up-to-date for the time, making the location of the mega-project in areas with high geological risk was possible, because the area where it is located is exceeded by more than 11 recognized geological errors and its impact on the population level affects the life, culture and economy of more than 26,000 people who are upstream and live downstream.
It adds that it was not necessary to grant the license, the environmental diagnosis of alternatives, so that it can be evaluated and it can be determined whether this was the best location choice from an environmental and social point of view to develop the project.
The report also raises questions that have to generate during the implementation of the project 12 changes to the environmental license, who did not have enough studies and designs, but she has awarded the ANLA.
Another conclusion of the Comptroller is the supposed lack of an emergency plan to address the crisis that occurred in April 2018, where according to this EPM hydraulic control of the project had been lost. "It had no direct actions to the attention of the residents of the population downstream of the Cauca River, affected by the flow of water from the Cauca River, which affected seven municipalities uncontrolled, causing the evacuation of thousands of people," the report says. .
And he adds: "The emergency plan of the Ituango Hydroelectric Project has been designed and formulated without taking into account the maximum risks, as it should have been done, approved by the environmental authority with these shortcomings. that the studies and designs have been presented more to meet a requirement in the environmental permit than for the adequate development of the project ".
In the development of the civil works of the project, according to the Comptroller, there were also decisions by EPM and Anla, which were technically not supported as the final closure of the two main diversion tunnels, "without the construction of the lock gates included in the design. and in his replacement the construction of a single tunnel with half the capacity of the two closed tunnels, also situated on geological defects ".
"The causes that led to the collapse of this new tunnel have not been established yet: the accumulation of failures in the investigations, designs and works of the diverting tunneling system, as well as in the wrong decisions by those involved, made it possible that the disaster would last for three months. ago, from which the consequences persist, "adds the report.
The Comptrollers Office also mentions in the report that the time factor has prevailed in promoting the work and completing the project, apart from environmental and social issues. "The risk can be increased by the arrival of the rainy season in October, the date on which it reaches the peak of the amount of precipitation," they warn.
The control entity also ensures that the horizon of the project can be considered uncertain and that there is "absence of information", so they warn that the risk persists, so that this emergency situation has been overcome. "The lack of suitable information about the project before the environmental license was granted was the common denominator of this project in all its phases, a situation marked by the recent emergency that occurred, for which the national government called upon the opinion from international experts. "
"In general terms can be summarized what was found by the CGR, the approval of the environmental permit without counting the project with technical studies, designs and baseline based on updated information (part of the presented information corresponded to information from several decades old and who did not show the actual conditions of the moment), detailed (the scale used was regional and not punctual in the area), complete (there was no information and detailed designs) and without determining whether this was the best option because the environmental diagnosis of alternatives was not required ".
During the whole project, according to the Comptroller General, major changes were made "without any modification of the license (minor works conceived and the development of the diversion tunnel without a license), and due to non-compliance by the environmental authority, administrative processes, sanctions, the lack of care, opportunity and management run the risk of expiry date and prescription. "
The report also calls on government agencies to inform the public about the risk to which they are exposed. "The villagers deserve to know how long they must be under the conditions of fear or if the risk is forever and from there to take the decisions of the case, it is the minimum of their rights," he concludes.