Radomiro Tomic Desalination Plant

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Project Number: 
Expected Consideration Date by the Board: 
Date Posted: 
To be confirmed
Sponsoring Entity: 
Project in the award stage. Sponsoring entity to be selected
Financing Requested: 
Under evaluation, amount to be determined.
Water and Sanitation
Environmental and Social Category: 
Scope Objective: 

The Project involves the development, construction and operation of a seawater desalination plant, its associated marine intake and outfall structures, a water pumping system of approximately 160 km in length, and the associated electrical infrastructure.

The desalination plant (DP), which will include pre-treatment, reverse osmosis and post-treatment associated works, will have a design flow rate of 1,956 liters per second (l/s). Desalinated water will be transported from this facility via an  underground pipeline system of approximately 160 km in length and pumped through four pumping stations to an industrial water reservoir located on the grounds of the Radomiro Tomic Division [División Radomiro Tomic] (DRT), near the mine of the same name, where the water will be used.

The intended purpose of the martime works is to capture seawater and discharge the brine derived from the desalination process. The seawater will be taken in via a system comprised of two towers (which include a sodium hypochlorite injection system and an anti-jellyfish air injection system), two pipelines, and the bilge, located on land, from which the seawater will be pumped to the desalinization plant. The discharge structure will be comprised of a load chamber, the discharge pipes and a diffuser located at the end of the pipeline.

The total cost of the Project is estimated in one billion US$ dollars.

The place where the DP will be located has practically no vegetation, as it is situated in the desertic region of Chile's Norte Grande. Nevertheless, flora records show the presence of 15 species of vascular plants, all of them native, from which two have conservation status: Eulychnia iquiquensis (vulnerable), and Solanum sitiens (vulnerable and rare). As to wildlife, records show the presence of the Constanza's tree iguana (Liolaemus constanzae(, the Golden-spotted ground dove (Metriopelia aymara), the Culpeo fox (Lycalopex culpaeus), the Lima leaf-eared mouse (Phyllotis limatus), the Mountain caracara (Phalcoboenus megalopterus), and the Plain-mantled tit-spinetail (Leptasthenura aegithaloides), all considered "least concern" species.

Environmental Review: 

<p>This Project has been preliminarily classified as a Category &quot;A&quot; project, pursuant to the IDB Invest Environmental and Social Sustainability Policy, since it could have the following adverse environmental and social impacts: (i) Disturbance of habitats, especially marine habitats because of seawater capture and the release of brackish water; (ii) erosion and soil washing, due to the construction of the desalination plant and of the pipeline that will transport the desalinated water to its point of use (160 km away); (iii) generation of dust and changes in air quality (PM10, PM25) during the entire building phase of the plant, the water pipeline, and the associates transmission line; (iv) disruptions to vehicle&nbsp; traffic, especially on secondary roads; (v) increase in the level of occupational health and safety risks for workers, especially in marine activities; (vi) potential water and soil contatmination, particularly in the marine substrate; (vii) possible impacts on sensitive species; (viii) noise and introduction of vibrations; (ix) impact on land and natural resources used by neighboring communities (for example, small-scale or informal fishing); and (x) potential difficulties in access to or temporary impact on economic activities in neighboring communities or towns. These impacts are estimated to be moderate to high.

The Project’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) was classified as environmentally favorable by the Environmental Evaluation Commission of the Antofagasta Region [Comisión de Evaluación Ambiental de la Región de Antofagasta] through Resolution No. 0022 EX of 20 January 2016. An Environmental Impact Statement [Declaración de Impacto Ambiental] (DIA), which introduced adjustments to the desalination plant in order to optimize its design and hasten the execution thereof, has been submitted to the Environmental Authority for analysis and approval.

The environmental and social management program set out in the EIA contains three major types of plans: (i) Mitigation Measures Plan, which includes plans to manage the physical environment, the biotic environment, and cultural heritage; (ii) Compensation Measures Plan, which comprises compensation plans for the physical, human, cultural, and perceptual environments; and (iii) Voluntary Measures Plan, which contains a series of actions and commitments voluntarily adopted by the client to benefit the neighboring communities.

Were it to participate in the transaction, IDB Invest would hire an independent environmental and social consultant to help in the Environmental and Social Due Diligence (ESDD) process, assess likely environmental risks, confirm the Project’s classification, evaluate management plans to mitigate such risks, and define an environmental and social action plan (ESAP) for the Project to close any gap that might exist between what was verified during the EDSS and the requirements of the IDB Invest Sustainability Policy.

As part of the ESDD process, IDB Invest would: (i) Visit the Project site; (ii) evaluate the environmental, social, and health and safety system to be adopted, including its associated plans and procedures; (iii) inspect the campsites and industrial areas; (iv) verify the scope of the public consultation process; and (v) evaluate the basic data and social and labor issues related to the Project.

An Environmental and Social Review Summary (ESRS) will be prepared and published on the IDB Invest website once IDB Invest’s involvement in the transaction has been confirmed and the ESDD has been concluded.

Environmental Impact Assessments: 
Environmental and Social Action Plan: