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Argentina Environmental Export Market Plan
Chapter 4-Air Pollution Prevention and Control

Air pollution control has just recently become a priority in Argentina. Although few of the country's industries control their air emissions, air pollution is not a critical problem in the greater Buenos Aires area because the flat relief of the city and its surrounding plains allows air pollutants to dissipate quickly. Nevertheless, air pollution is a problem in other urban areas. For example, Cordoba, the second-largest city in Argentina, is surrounded by mountains that trap the air emissions, creating significant air quality problems.
Overall, there is very little systematic information about air pollution levels and compositions in Argentina. Air quality monitoring is scarce in Buenos Aires and virtually nonexistent in the rest of the country. Until recently, regular monitoring was only done in Buenos Aires by the municipality's atmospheric testing laboratory, Fundación Siglo XXI (which monitors only carbon monoxide levels), and the Pro Buenos Aires Institute. The collected data were not made public due to issues with their reliability. However, there are plans to launch a $4.5 million project to establish an air-quality monitoring program in Buenos Aires. In preparation for this program, several mobile air-quality monitoring stations recorded air quality at various points in Buenos Aires during 1997. Permanent sites for quality monitoring stations will be selected based on an analysis of the collected data. This project will also include the development of an emissions database, air quality models, pilot projects, and a vehicle emissions control program. Additional funding is being sought from the World Bank for this activity.

Stationary Sources of Industrial Pollution

According to the Air Pollution Law of 1973, stationary sources of industrial pollution must have emission permits from federal and provincial health authorities, as well as permits from the appropriate air pollution control enforcement agency. However, regulations to implement this law were never promulgated. The one notable exception is a regulation for air emissions from thermal plants, which was promulgated by the Secretary of Energy.
A new federal air pollution law has been drafted and is under review at the Secretariat of Natural Resources and Sustainable Development (SRNDS). At the provincial level, the Province of Buenos Aires has established emission standards for industrial plants (Law 11, 459), but enforcement remains limited. Few other provinces have specific standards in place for air pollution.

Kansas City-Based BHA Group, Inc. Sells Air Purification Equipment in Argentina

BHA Group, Inc., sold $1.9 million in equipment and engineering services to Loma Negra, CIA Industrial to upgrade its cement plant air purification system. The electrostatic precipitators for two cement kilns were rebuilt with state-of-the-art equipment. This transaction was supported by the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which provided a guarantee for a loan from the First National Bank of Boston.
Source: International Environmental Reporter, April 19, 1997, P. 192.

Apart from the regulatory requirements, voluntary programs are beginning to drive the air pollution control equipment market. Many of the members of the Chemical and Petrochemical Industrial Chamber are participating in the Environmental Care Program of the Inter-industrial Committee for Environmental Conservation. Involvement in this program will increase the market for emission control technologies as the industry works to achieve the program's goals.
The two industries that may generate the most opportunities for an air control equipment are petrochemical, Argentina's largest and most important industry, and mining. Oil refineries and petrochemical facilities in Bahia Blanca, Rosario, La Plata, and Mendoza are major sources of air pollution in these cities. Moreover, the petrochemical industry is coming under pressure to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions due to acid rain problems.
The mining sector is the fastest-growing source of air pollution in the country. Although mining has not yet become a major player in the country's economy, privatization and changes made to the mining code have made this sector more attractive to foreign investment. The most important investment project is Baja de la Alumbrera in Catamarca, which will produce copper and gold. Other minerals extracted in Argentina are zinc, silver, lead, and uranium. Particulate matter is released to the atmosphere during extraction, and sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates are emitted in the smelting process.
Another industry that may present opportunities in the short to medium term for air pollution control equipment is power generation. Argentina's energy consumption is rapidly shifting to natural gas, mainly because its economical. In 1991, this relatively clean fuel accounted for 46 percent of the industrial sector's energy requirements and for 78 percent of the power sector's fuel consumption. These figures indicate that there are opportunities for fuel conversion and for equipment to control nitrogen oxide emissions. Also, despite fuel substitution, opportunities for pollution control equipment still exist in older facilities that continue to need equipment such as scrubbers, filters, and low nitrogen oxide burners.

Motor Vehicle Pollution

The increasing number of motor vehicles in circulation and serious congestion problems in the center of Buenos Aires are resulting in relatively high ambient concentrations of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and lead. It is estimated that in 1993, more than 300,000 tons of pollutants were emitted from motor vehicles in the Federal District alone. According to the scarce data available, lead air pollution resulting from high-lead content gasoline (0.6-1.0 g/l) may represent a major public health problem in the capital.
Motor vehicle pollution is regulated by Decree 975 (1994) of Law 2,254 (1992), which establishes national emission and noise standards for new and used motor vehicles. SRNDS is responsible for enforcing this decree. The standards went into effect immediately for new vehicles. They go into effect for all older vehicles in 1999. The Federal District has promulgated stricter emissions limits.
The emission standards encourage the adoption of vehicle emission control technologies, primarily catalytic converters. Domestic engine technology needs to be improved not only to reduce air emissions in Argentina but also to comply with Mercosur’s common market requirements for automobile exports to Brazil. Thus, the market for catalytic converters should be lucrative. However, this market's development is hindered by the government's poor enforcement of environmental standards for vehicles. For example, vehicle inspections are very ineffective, and currently only 10 percent of the registered trucks and 8 percent of the registered passenger transport vehicles participate in annual inspections. Mandatory inspections for private vehicles have yet to be introduced. Another hindrance to the market's development is the availability of unleaded gasoline. The installation of catalytic converters in vehicles must be accompanied by fuel switching, from leaded to unleaded gasoline. Unleaded gasoline was introduced in Argentina in 1993 and currently accounts for less than 10 percent of vehicle fuel consumption. It is not readily available outside greater Buenos Aires.
In 1985, a program of tax exemptions was introduced to promote the replacement of petroleum fuels with compressed natural gas (CNG). To date, the CNG program has led to the substitution of about 12 percent of diesel use in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area. Of the nearly 40,000 registered taxis, about 65 percent use CNG, with the remainder running on diesel; out of the 15,000 registered buses, only about 300 run on CNG. CNG-fueled cars are preferred by many taxi owners as the fuel costs are slightly below diesel prices, and new CNG taxis tend to be 30-35 percent cheaper than new diesel taxis. However, the potential for switching buses to CNG seems very limited, mostly due to the inconvenience associated with long refueling times. In addition, new CNG buses tend to be more expensive than diesel-fueled buses. CNG technologies present a substantial business opportunity for U.S. companies.

Market Summary and Best Prospects

The market for air pollution prevention and control is fairly small in Argentina. It is estimated at $45 million for 1998. The best opportunities are with large companies that are committed to environmental goals under ISO 14000, responsible care programs, or by their own parent company's environmental policy. Some of the better prospects include:
Emission control equipment for the chemical, petrochemical, mining, and power sector. Equipment needs will include: scrubbers, filters, low nitrogen oxide burners, casing vents, air-fuel controllers, carbon filters, and electrostatic precipitators. The need to eliminate sulfur and nitrogen emissions in oil refineries and petrochemical facilities will present a potential market.
Monitoring equipment and consulting services. As Argentina begins to consider air quality issues, there will be some demand for the design, installation, and operation of monitoring systems for air quality and emissions monitoring for the federal and provincial governments. The development of air emissions databases and air quality modeling will be required.
Fuel conversion equipment for industrial plants and motor vehicles. The conversion to natural gas presents some opportunities for fuel conversion equipment and for emissions controls for natural gas.

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