United Nations experts express their utmost concern for the human rights impacts of the Punta Catalina Thermoelectric Power Plant

Press release
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National Committee for the Fight against Climate Change (CNLCC)

Seven United Nations special rapporteurs and working groups expressed their utmost concern about the adverse human rights impacts of the Punta Catalina Thermoelectric Power Plant (CTPC for its acronym in spanish). This statement follows an intense campaign -promoted by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the National Committee for the Fight against Climate Change (CNLCC) and the Institute of Lawyers for the Protection of the Environment (INSAPROMA)- to denounce and demand that the Dominican Republic take urgent measures to mitigate, prevent and repair the damages caused by the Plant.

Paris and Santo Domingo, 7 February 2024. In a communication published on February 6 2024, the Special Rapporteurs on the right to food, the environment, health, extreme poverty, toxics and water and sanitation, as well as the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, brought to the attention of the Dominican State the operation of the CTPC and its impact on the rights to health, access to drinking water and adequate food, and the enjoyment of a clean environment.

The United Nations experts expressed their utmost concern over the absence of risk mitigation measures for the power plant, the inadequate management of its toxic and hazardous waste, as well as the lack of an official assessment regarding its impacts on health, water availability, and the depletion of communities’ food resources.

In their communication, the special procedures urged the authorities to take all necessary measures to protect the rights of the affected populations, especially children. They also requested the State to provide information on the measures it has taken to:

 Evaluate the impacts of the CTPC’s air emissions and toxic waste on people’s health, as well as on the quality of air, water, soil and subsoil;
 Ensure measures for sustainable and environmentally sound waste management;
 Guarantee full and effective reparation to affected communities, and
 Ensure that the CTPC, as a public company, respects human rights, in accordance with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Likewise, the Special Rapporteurs and the Working Group requested that the State inform whether it was considering closing the CTPC and to describe the plans adopted to promote the energy transition from fossil fuels to sustainable, affordable, secure and non-polluting energies.

This communication was accompanied by a letter addressed to Empresa de Generación Eléctrica Punta Catalina (EGEPC), in which the United Nations experts asked it to provide information on the human rights due diligence processes adopted by the company to identify, prevent, mitigate and remedy the harm caused by its activities.

The United Nations experts’ communications are based on a report submitted in September 2023 to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) by FIDH, CNLCC and INSAPROMA, which documented how the operation of the power plant exposed the Dominican population, especially children, to dangerous and unhealthy levels of air, water and soil pollution.

One of its main recommendations was the definitive closure of the CTPC by 2028, taking into account the special vulnerability of the Dominican Republic to climate change, and the central role of fossil fuels, such as coal, in the acceleration and deepening of this phenomenon.

This report was also taken up by the CRC, which, in its concluding observations issued on 25 September 2023, referred to the CTPC. The Committee recommended that the State assess the impact of the power plant on the right to life, survival, and development of children; adopt measures to ensure that children do not die due to a high concentration of particulate matter and toxic gases; and implement measures to increase access to sufficient safe drinking water in the places most affected by the CTPC.

FIDH trusts that this communication will allow for the implementation of a round table with the affected communities, as well as to address the concerns of the United Nations experts.

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