Sustainable Strategies for Development - Cubatao B
The Brazilian government in its drive for economic development in the 1950's thought the valley near the Port of Santos, was the ideal place for industrial development. Chemical and fertiliser plants followed a giant oil refinery and a huge state owned steelworks. The towns population grew, mostly poor people desperate for work. With no environmental controls, toxic air pollution became trapped in the valley by surrounding mountains. In 1970's the series of disasters made the government think of all the environmental impacts of all the industries. Several babies were born without brains which can't be linked directly to pollution but the local people believed it was the cause. Air pollution also killed the lush vegetation on the mountain side. In the rainy season, soil on bare slopes washed away causing mudslides and flood causing alot of damage. Pipeline explosions under shanty developments caused widespread damage. People lived and died in appalling conditions.
The government then saw the need for environmental restrictions and a more sustainable approach to development. Local and reginal authorities worked with the industries, local people and international agencies. Air pollution was decreased by 80% in 10 years. The slopes were reforested and water quality improved. Pollution has not been eliminated but is under control. The air is still bad and cancer rates high but Cubatao is no longer death valley. Now most factory workers have a high standard of living and live elsewhere. There is still a high population living there who are a new wave of poorer people moving in from other places.