The imbroglio involving the seawater desalination plant at Praia do Futuro, in Fortaleza (CE) may be coming to an end. The information is from the columnist of UOL Carlos Madero.
After postponing the meeting that would define the future of the project and guarantees from the company responsible that the work will not affect the internet, the Ceará State Environmental Council unanimously approved the environmental impact study for the installation of the plant. The vote was held this Wednesday (8).
Now, the Ceará Environmental Secretariat will be responsible for issuing the preliminary license for the works. It is worth mentioning that the project is the result of a public-private partnership (PPP) between Cagece (Companhia de Esgoto do Ceará) and the Consórcio Águas de Fortaleza.
Remember the controversy
- At Praia do Futuro, there are 17 submarine internet cables;
- According to companies in the sector, building the plant in the same location could pose risks to the connection in Brazil, as the cables carry 99% of the data, according to the Ministry of Communications;
- Those responsible for the PPP, in turn, guarantee there is no risk, claiming that the ducts will be more than 500 m from the internet cables, with zero chance of hitting them.
Voting and approval
In the vote this Wednesday (8), 22 people voted in favor of the project and four abstained from voting. There were no votes against.
The desalination plant will receive a total of R$3 billion in investment over 30 years. The consortium responsible will invest R$520 million in the plant and R$2.5 billion in maintenance and operations. The plant is expected to begin construction early next year.
It will supply water to 700,000 people in the capital of Ceará, with the capacity to help the entire State, as Fortaleza currently receives water from the interior of Ceará and has no springs.
Fortaleza is a strategic point
The vast amount of online data that Fortaleza receives is due to the fact that it is a strategic point. The capital of Ceará is closest to the USA, the country with the majority of the world’s internet data.
TelComp, which represents telephone, broadband and internet access operators, pay TVs and data centers, spoke through its executive president, Luiz Henrique Barbosa.
The executive stated that the project has the capacity to generate an internet blackout in Brazil “because a plant is not being placed where there is a cable, but where there is an entire hub”. “Today, no one thinks about getting internet in Brazil by any other route than Fortaleza,” he said.
Barbosa also stated that, if just one cable is damaged, the repair could take weeks and reduce data traffic. However, according to him, the sector is not concerned about or repudiating the construction of the plant itself, but rather the chosen location.
If we went back 20 years and already had the plant, no company would choose to lay cables there because there would be an industrial unit. These areas are chosen precisely because they are ideal for investments. We talk about billion-dollar values.
Luiz Henrique Barbosa, executive president of TelComp
In turn, the consortium guarantees and reiterates that there are no risks in building the plant in the chosen location. The CEO of the Specific Purpose Company (SPE) Águas de Fortaleza, Renan Carvalho, says that there is no way the work will affect the cables.
According to him, studies have been carried out since 2018 and the initial model was modified, in order to increase the distance between the waste collection and emission ducts of submarine internet cables. It guarantees that the distance between equipment will be greater than 500 m.
“When the distance was 40 to 50 m, there was no longer any risk. The government changed it and, after this change, we watched with perplexity this talk that there could be harm. It is absurd to talk about risk to any pipeline,” he said.
Carvalho also ruled out the possibility that the crossing of pipes during the construction of the onshore part of the plant under the already installed data centers could pose risks.
As we are speaking, there is some cable crossing installation in the city. To give you an idea, between Praias do Futuro and Aldeota alone there are more than a thousand cable crossings. This work will cross a few more, but so what? There are data centers in much worse places.
Renan Carvalho, CEO of SPE Águas de Fortaleza
In the past, in a conversation with radio station O Povo/CBN, the governor of Ceará, Elmano de Freitas (PT), was also in favor of the project in the defined location. “[…] All the technical studies we have carried out for more than two years are clear that there is no risk to the cables”, he highlighted.
What is not possible is for the companies that own the internet cables to want to own Praia do Futuro. This is not reasonable. Praia do Futuro belongs to the people of Ceará, the people of Fortaleza.
Elmano de Freitas (PT), governor of Ceará, in an interview with O Povo/CBN radio