MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Peruvian Congress Investigates Doe Run Compliance: Congresswoman Rejects Mining Company "Blackm

Published by MAC on 2007-05-15

Peruvian Congress Investigates Doe Run Compliance: Congresswoman Rejects Mining Company "Blackmail"

Movimiento por la Salud de La Oroya/MOSAO - Mesa Técnica

May 15, 2007, La Oroya, Peru. A public hearing on Doe Run Peru company compliance with Peru's environmental law was held in La Oroya last Friday. At the hearing, Congresswoman Gloria Ramos stated that no hostility should be shown towards those who carry out environmental studies and try to raise public awareness about the environment.

“We have to provide some options-- it's precisely because we are concerned about the situation that we are here today”, said Ramos.

She added that the Peruvian government should require mining companies to fulfill their legal responsibilities. “When the operations of DRP are questioned, [DRP] says it will leave. We cannot allow bribery by the mining companies. Doe Run is a North American company, and no city in North America would accept this type of contamination,” concluded Ramos.

The Congresswoman spoke on these issues in a hearing organized by the Congressional Committee for Andean, Amazonian, and Afro-Peruvian Pepoples, and the Environment. Congressional representatives Juan Perry, Gloria Ramos, and Committee Chair Carlos Canepa were the congressional committee members instrumental in getting the hearing scheduled. The hearing took place in the Catholic Parish of La Oroya and was organized to assess Doe Run's compliance with its environmental obligations which were postponed in a controversial decision in May 2006.

The proposals from the hearing will be organized by the commission and later presented in a report in Congress. In the hearing, Agustín Mamani, former City Manager of La Oroya, stated that the total impact of Doe Run's fugitive emissions are eight times greater than the emissions from the central smokestack. The air pollution generated in the Doe Run plant, according to a Swiss consulting firm, negatively impacts the surrounding agricultural areas of the fertile Mantaro River Valley.

José Mogrovejo, representative of DRP, noted the advances being made to meet the PAMA requirements. Mogrovejo noted that 58 children with blood lead levels exceeding 45 micrograms/deciliter are being given special treatment in Casaracra in cooperation with DRP. According to a recent St. Louis University School of Public Health Study, 97.2% of of the 9,000 La Oroya's children and young people have lead poisoning.

Also in the hearing, Dr. Hugo Villa, a neurologist and public health physician with 20 years experience in La Oroya emphasized the serious health situation for the people of La Oroya, particularly for the children. He cited recommendations from the International Workshop on Neurotoxicity held in Italy last year. The recommendation was that the international standard should be lowered from 10 to 5 micrograms per deciliter, becaue of the permamnent danger to human health. Finally Dr. Villa challenged the governmental health ministry to become directly involved in addressing the health crisis of La Oroya.

After the proposals and presentations of speakers, Aníbal Carhuapoma, Secretary General of the Worker’s Union for the Metallurgical Complex, challenged the townspeople and the company to unite efforts to solve the environmental problem. Carhuapoma added that the DRP workers should not allow the company to manipulate them.

The participants of the Health Movement for La Oroya (MOSAO) asked that Peru's Congress address the problem by implementing the “Action Plan to Improve Air Quality.” MOSAO also proposed that an office of OSSINBERG (the Peruvian government entity charged with gathering data and monitoring the activities of the Metallurical Complex of La Oroya) be opened in La Oroya.

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