Pollution and Society

Pollution and Society

In a city that once prided itself on growth at any cost, the Mayor, a former business leader, now takes pride in his campaign: "Cubatao -- City Symbol of Ecology." This campaign includes planting 130,000 trees, establishing four municipal "ecological parks," requiring environmental education in city schools, building bicycle pathways and a sewer system and enlisting Brazil's renowned landscape artist, Burle Marx, to design a parkway entrance for the city.
"Cubatao was always described as one of the most polluted places in the world," the Mayor, Nei Eduardo Serra, said. "Today, Cubatao has become an example of a solution to the problem of third-world pollution."
"Cosipa has all the technical plans approved and a lot of equipment has been purchased," said Sergio Correa Alejandro, the regional manager of [Cetesb]. "With luck, they will be in compliance in two years."
Special to The New York Times
After school let out one recent afternoon here, Cleiton Celio Silva Araujo grabbed hooks, line and a bamboo pole and scrambled down a bank of the Cubatao River. Within an hour, the gangly 13-year-old was filling a plastic bag with fish.
Out of place in this tableau was the background: metal chimneys and ducts of a riverside styrene plant. Even more out of place was a label that Brazilian environmentalists long ago gave to this industrial city: the Valley of Death.
In a striking example of a turnaround in industrial pollution in Latin America, Cubatao's residents are now enjoying the benefits of a frontal attack on the poisons that once flowed freely from Brazil's largest industrial park.
Today, a verdant mantle of trees and bushes cover mountainsides that surround the steel, fertilizer and petrochemical plants of Cubatao Valley. Less than a decade ago, clouds of ammonia and fluorides rendered the mountain ridges a lifeless skyline of dead tree trunks.
In health clinics here, the infant mortality rate dropped in half and oxygen masks fell out of fashion as the...

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