Benchmark Chile confronts substantial fines for environmental permit violations

Chile's SMA has fined Benchmark Chile's company in the Araucanía region for failing to comply with environmental permits.
La Araucanía region, Chile. Photo by: SMA.
La Araucanía region, Chile. Photo by: SMA.

Chile's Superintendencia del Medio Ambiente (SMA) has fined Benchmark Chile's company in the Araucanía region for failing to comply with environmental permits for two of the company's projects. Benchmark Chile is facing fines amounting to USD 8,342 million for three different categories of infractions.

Luis Muñoz, the Chief of the Araucanía Regional Office, stated that assessments of aquaculture initiatives within the region have revealed unexpected environmental impacts. Furthermore, these discoveries were not anticipated by the owners. "Through the inspection activities carried out in each fish farming project, we were able to confirm that, in their operation, environmental impacts not foreseen by the owners were evidenced after detecting the proliferation of microorganisms in the sectors of discharge of Liquid Industrial Waste (Liquid Industrial Waste, that is, liquid waste generated by industrial activities) carried out by the Curacalco Fish Farm in the river of the same name and the Estero Peuco Fish Farm in the same estuary."

Three different sanctions

The first of these would be minor and is related to the lack of appropriate information. According to the SMA, the company "did not report promptly, nor did it implement the necessary measures to address unforeseen environmental impacts." This pertains to the proliferation of mucilaginous microorganism colonies in specific zones of the discharge channel and in waters near the point of effluent discharge from the Curacalco Fish Farm.

The other two, however, are serious. These are based on "non-compliance with the obligation of ecological flow and the collection of water for the production process from three subway wells, in contravention of RCA N°136/2000 and RCA N°235/2006". This implies that in the first of the serious violations, the company did not comply with the obligation to maintain a water flow (flow rate) necessary to maintain the ecological balance in the area affected by its operation. In the second, Benchmark captured water from three subway wells for its production process, which is against the established regulations.

About the Superintendency of the Environment (SMA)

The Superintendency of the Environment (SMA) oversees Chile's environmental regulations as a decentralized public entity. Law No. 20.417 established SMA to monitor and enforce Environmental Qualification Resolutions, Emission Standards, Quality Standards, and more. SMA's officials conduct direct oversight, authorized bodies perform sectorial oversight, and accredited entities carry out third-party oversight.

About Benchmark

Benchmark is a market-leading aquaculture biotechnology company. Thus, Benchmark's mission is to drive sustainability in aquaculture by delivering products and solutions. They concentrate on three business: Genetics, Health, and Advanced Nutrition. Finally, there are the main points in the productivity and sustainability of aquaculture throughout the production cycle.

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