Dominican Republic: Punta Catalina coal plant violates children’s rights


The Punta Catalina thermoelectric power plant seriously violates the rights of children in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, and Jamaica. Given the evidence of environmental contamination and corruption, the signatory organisations demand the immediate closure of the plant by the Dominican State.

Geneva, Santo Domingo, September 6, 2023. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the National Committee to Combat Climate Change (CNLCC), and the Institute of Lawyers for Environmental Protection (INSAPROMA) have published a report denouncing repeated violations of children’s rights and the environment by the State of the Dominican Republic, which has failed to adopt measures to prevent and remedy the damage caused by the commissioning of the Punta Catalina Thermoelectric Power Plant (CTPC by its spanish acronym).

The study warns about the alarming level of pollution that the CTPC has generated in just three years of operation, which could cause the premature death of 6000 people in the next 30 years, as well as the increase in diseases associated with the combustion of coal, which are lethal to children.

Every day, the plant expels 5,000 tons of toxic ash into the environment. This waste has created three artificial mountains, located near water sources and farmland in the community of Catalina, whose dimensions are comparable to five football stadiums and are estimated to amount to more than 600 thousand tons.

The situation is further worsened by storms that, passing through the region, transport the ashes, thus polluting water reserves and fertile lands. The report emphasises that the particles and polluting gases from the emissions of the plant also reach Haiti, Cuba, and Jamaica.

In this regard, the report’s analysis emphasises the risks that exist in terms of access to drinking water, adequate nutrition, and the enjoyment of a safe environment, necessary for the survival, adequate growth, and development of children.

Presentation of the report to the UN

The report, which has been presented to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which is examining the situation in the Dominican Republic today, is based on data collected and verified with field research, including a study on the contamination of the CTPC, which was supported by an interdisciplinary team of experts and international academic institutions.

According to Jimena Reyes, FIDH’s Director for the Americas, "The acts of corruption surrounding the bidding and construction of Punta Catalina are outrageous. The bribes of more than US 39.5 million paid by Odebrecht surely explain why the State of the Dominican Republic, one of the most vulnerable countries in the context of climate change, has made the decision to build a coal-fired power plant, which was finalised in the year 2020”.

FIDH, INSAPROMA, and CNLCC conclude that the Dominican Republic has failed in its duty to respect and protect children’s rights. Likewise, by building and implementing the Punta Catalina power plant with serious structural failures, the State is responsible for the high levels of pollution and the health risks to the broader population of the Caribbean.

Enrique de León, a representative of the CLCC, demands "the immediate closure of the Punta Catalina Thermoelectric Power Plant, as well as the execution of measures to clean the affected places and the end of the acts of corruption and contamination that affect thousands of children."

Similarly, the Committee on the Rights of the Child is urged to compel the Dominican Republic to repair the damage caused by the CTPC, including compensation to families who, due to environmental pollution, have seen their livelihoods gravely affected.

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