New tests for firing bricks at the Parque Ladrillero
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
Recently, in a press release the municipal government announced that new test firings of bricks in the kilns at Parque Ladrillero are taking place using different materials. The release stated that “the citizens’ government is seeking new options for materials to be used in the ecological oven MK2, which could be a complement to the fires made with wood, and even a substitute. A few days ago, the first firing test was done, and some others (three or four) have been scheduled, always using non-contaminating materials that can contribute to obtaining bricks of better quality.” Regardless of these efforts, the brick makers are still against relocating their operations to the new Parque Ladrillero.
Mayor Núñez and the PROFEPA (Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection) have received complaints about the air pollution caused by the brick kilns at the Ejido de Nuevo Pantoja, located in the urban area. In the last few months several actions have been taken to relocate the owners of kilns from Nuevo Pantoja to Parque Ladrillero on the new road to Guanajuato, including the construction of more ecologically sound kilns, called MK2. According to the brick makers, the new ovens do not work properly and produce gray, rather than red, bricks. Jeff Rotler, who built the kilns, said that the ovens were built with raw bricks and must be fired before they will produce the desired result.
But the ladrilleros (brick makers) did not understand that and were disappointed with the initial results. In addition, they commented that with the transportation of all their material to the Parque Ladrillero their cost of production would increase as well as the price of the bricks, which on average is 1,300 pesos for a millar (1,000 bricks).
Also, the municipality, through the Department of Ecology, tried to sign agreements with the local Association of Architects so they would buy the bricks produced in the MK2 kiln, even in advance of their being produced. Alfredo Argueta, president of the association, commented that they did not have formal agreements with the municipality and did not know whether bricks had been bought from there. He made it clear that if the bricks were of inferior quality the architects would not purchase them.
Reluctance to move from Nuevo Pantoja
Although the brick makers have told Atención that they are firing their bricks with sawdust, all kinds of plastic materials and trash can be seen next to the kilns. Some of the ladrilleros said that even if the MK2 works with the new material, they must carefully consider what they are going to do because the relocation will increase their cost of production and it could be more complicated to move their material every day to the Parque Ladrillero. Even if there are two ovens, they said, only one can be used at a time.
They added that “the relocation will be complicated. They are asking so much from us, but the local government does not even take a look to all of the problems that we have. We do not have potable water in our homes, just two hydrants with water once a week for two hours for 200 families. That is not fair. We don’t have their support.” They also commented that they have not attended the test firings because they are not interested in the results.
According to the brick producers, about 50 families rely on brick making for their livings.