A small town in Chile grapples with the capital's trash

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Chile's trash problem
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Chile's trash problem
Riot policemen gather at a street corner during a protest against a new industrial waste processing facility that is being constructed in Til Til, Chile, August 20, 2017. The police fired tear gas at the protestors to disperse them. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Locals shout slogans as they attempt to block a mountain road during a protest against a new industrial waste processing facility that is being constructed in Til Til, Chile, August 11, 2017. "The landfill contaminates the future for my nephew because it is toxic waste," a demonstrator said. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Locals make barricades as they gather to protest against a new industrial waste processing facility that is being constructed in Til Til, Chile, August 15, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Riot policemen remove barricades from train tracks which is used to transport garbage, after a protest against a new industrial waste processing facility that is being constructed in Til Til, Chile, August 20, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
An 'Animita' which is used to remember a tragic event in a public place, is seen next to a train track which is used to transport garbage in Til Til, Chile, October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Workers and riot policemen attempt to remove a rail that was used to block the route of a train that transports garbage, as part of a protest against a new industrial waste processing facility that is being constructed in Til Til, Chile, August 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A mountain which is close to both - an existing waste dump and the new industrial waste processing facility that is being constructed, is seen in Til Til, Chile, September 29, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Riot policemen guard train tracks which are used to transport garbage, to prevent barricades from locals protesting against the new industrial waste processing facility that is being constructed in Til Til, Chile, August 15, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Alex Rojas, a caretaker of farm animals, attempts to catch horses to give them medication in Til Til, Chile, February 20, 2018. "One more dump for Til Til town would be polluting all our water and the animals that drink that water," Alex said of new industrial waste processing facility that is being constructed in Til Til. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A man drags a pram loaded with stuff that he sells on a street, close to train tracks in Til Til, Chile, August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A carcass of an animal lies on the ground next to a cement plant in Til Til, Chile, September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A man is seen riding a horse, from a fence of a train track, in Til Til, Chile, August 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A protester gestures as demonstrators block train tracks which is used to transport garbage during a protest against a new industrial waste processing facility that is being constructed in Til Til, Chile, August 15, 2017. "We have four tailings, two landfills, pollution in the river and power line towers. People do not care," a demonstrator said. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A child looks out from a house as he is illuminated by a burning barricade blocking train tracks during a protest against a new industrial waste processing facility that is being constructed in Til Til, Chile, August 11, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A greyhound passes by a power line tower in Til Til, Chile, February 19, 2018. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Grass surrounds a disused train tracks which were used by a cement plant in rural area close to Til Til, Chile, February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Farmer and psychologist Gonzalo Herrera takes a break at his prickly pears and olives plantation in Til Til, Chile, October 6, 2017. "A landfill will change our self-esteem. It will make us feel dirty," Gonzalo said of a new industrial waste processing facility that is being constructed in Til Til. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Demonstrators run away from tear gas released by riot police during a protest against a new industrial waste processing facility that is being constructed in Til Til, Chile, August 12, 2017. "Media calls us 'the garbage dump of metropolitan region' and that stigmatises us," a protester said. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A farmer uses rubber gloves to pick up prickly pears during harvest time in Til Til, Chile, February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A train, which is used to transport garbage, rides on its way to Santiago to be reloaded, in Til Til, Chile, August 7, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A train transporting garbage rides to a waste dump passing next to an abandoned power plant in Til Til, Chile, August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A prickly pear plantation located next to a rail line used by a train to transport garbage, is seen in a valley of Til Til, Chile, October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A shadow is cast on a wall painted with a skull at a bus stop in Til Til, Chile, September 13, 2017. "Til Til is not a ghost town, it's not just a landfill for Santiago," a local said. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A train, which is used to transport garbage, passes next to a local cemetery on its way to Santiago to be reloaded, in Til Til, Chile, August 24, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Javier, a farmer, climbs a ladder after inspecting the water level at an old well in Til Til, Chile, February 16, 2018. This year Javier has only been able to irrigate the prickly pear plantation, where he works, once due to lack of water. "When it (the land) is not irrigated, the quality of the fruit is lower," Javier said. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Police inspect the area where a train transporting garbage garbage was derailed, in Til Til, Chile, August 21, 2017. Local media reported that the train was allegedly derailed by demonstrators protesting against a new industrial waste processing facility that is being constructed in Til Til. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Cristian, a breeder of farm birds, holds up a dead falcon which he shot, in Til Til, Chile, February 19, 2018. Cristian said the raptors are attacking his farm birds due to the lack of food in the area. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado SEARCH "TIL TIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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TIL TIL, Chile, March 26 (Reuters) - The trains seem to never stop.

One after another, they haul more than 12 tonnes of rubbish daily to the small Chilean community of Til Til, 35 miles (56 km) northwest of Santiago, the equivalent of at least two-thirds of the capital's municipal waste.

This town of 17,000 is the last stop for much of the trash produced by a city of 7 million.

And now there will be more.

The Minister's Committee, a gathering of high-ranking Chilean political officials who decide the fate of controversial projects, last year approved the construction of a sprawling new industrial waste processing facility here.

Already, Til Til, a desert-dry community of yellow hills fringed with cactus fruit farms, has more than 30 industrial projects. Among them: several mining waste sites, a pig farm, a cement plant and Lomas Los Colorados, one of Santiago's largest waste dumps.

With this newly approved facility, operated by Ciclo, a local waste management company, Til Til will become the last stop for more than half the industrial waste produced from northern Chilean mining region of Atacama to Bio Bio province in the south, according to a report from Chile's Congress.

The community has protested, blocking the train tracks that funnel trash north, and Route 5, known locally as the Panamerican Highway and a major trucking thoroughfare that transits the city.

"Why Til Til again? Why must Til Til solve the environmental problems of 8 million inhabitants?," said Til Til Mayor Nelson Orellana on a radio program following the project's approval.

The national committee that approved the project says safeguards have put in place to minimize contamination or impact on townspeople.

Ciclo said that the site is the only one within the greater Santiago region that is "apt and possible" for an industrial waste site of this magnitude.

"There is no health risk for the population," Ciclo says on its website.

The company hopes to see the project begin operation in 2019, according to its promotional materials.

Meanwhile, Santiago's trash problem is only getting worse.

A 2015 fire at another large landfill in Santa Marta - much nearer the city center than Til Til - put citizens here on edge, shrouding Santiago's skyscrapers and crowded streets in toxic dust.

Only 10 percent of the country's trash is recycled, according to Environment Ministry statistics - putting the country near the bottom of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD) nations. (Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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