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Rejected in Argentina, yet welcome in Thiruvananthapuram

According to reports, Innviron, the US-based company chosen by the state government to set up a gasification plant to treat municipal solid waste at Chalai, has a long history of ‘breach of contract’ and repeated failures in waste-management in Argentina. The documents sourced by TOI prove that the company was rejected by four different municipalities in Argentina after it failed to convince the local governments regarding its expertise in waste-management.

Their latest failure happened in November 2012 in Villa Maria, just weeks after the state government here entrustedInnviron to set up a waste-to-energy plant at Chalai. Innviron received its first setback in Argentina in 2010 when it came up with a proposal of 80MW gasification plant in Cordoba. The municipality cancelled the tender after it was found that the plants operated by Innviron were not consistent with the specifications required for Cordoba. Edgardo Litvinoff, the correspondent of La voz del interior, an Argentinian daily – who had accompanied mayor on his visit to the plants – reports that even the press was kept at bay from inspecting the plants.

Litvinoff, in an email to TOI, said that Innviron was a failure in Argentina. “They promised a garbage treatment that they never did before (gasification). In the beginning the mayor said that everything was okay. I published the last articles about Innviron’s lies after the trip. One day after the last publication, the municipality officials changed their opinion,” he said. The mayor was quoted in the news reports as saying that Innviron did not process municipal solid waste at its plants in Florida and Georgia.

The company suffered similar setbacks in other provinces like Bouwer and Rio Cuarto. It had proposed gasification plants with a capacity of 30MW for Bouwer and 20MW for Rio Cuarto. “Innviron never informs about their failed projects and rescinded contracts. Thus, local officials with poor information are delighted with their false offers,” said FUNAM”s president Dr Raul A Montenegro in an email to TOI. FUNAM is an NGO based in Argentina that won the Right livelihood award 2004. “We had to battle for two years before the contract with Innviron could be ended,” he added.

At that time, Innviron was also involved in a land-fill at Villa-Maria for which it also proposed a 10 MW gasification plant. “However, their contract was rescinded on November 2012 after a history of disastrous land-fill. They could not even manage the basics of waste-management and the municipality was forced to end the contract,” said Luis Tuninetti, an environmentalist based in Argentina and the founder of an NGO Eco sitio, via e-mail.

TOI sent two mails to Neil Williams, president and CEO of Innviron, who had given a presentation for Chalai, regarding the company’s failure in Argentina. However, there was no reply. Interestingly the rejected projects are still displayed on the website of Innviron with technical details. Earlier, TOI had reported that gasification is still a developing technology and is not used in developed nations.

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