MAC: Mines and Communities

Peruvian Congressman Denounces Doe Run's "subversive Attitude"

Published by MAC on 2006-05-13
Source: Movement for Health of La Oroya


Peruvian Congressman Denounces Doe Run's "Subversive Attitude"

Press release : Movement for Health of La Oroya


Lima, Peru. May 13, 2006. Peruvian Congressman and member of the Congressional Commission on Energy and Mining, Carlos Infantas, announced that the Doe Run Company "is showing a subversive attitude, in an attempt to use pressure and violence so that the population supports its point of view".

Infantas made the comments after hearing that La Oroya's mayor, Clemente Quincho, is organizing a public march this Monday, 15 May, in support of the Doe Run Company's controversial request to postpone compliance with Peru's air pollution laws at its smelter in the city of La Oroya, Peru. Doe Run has admitted that its smelter emits daily more than 1000 tons of lead, arsenic, sulphur dioxide, and cadmium over La Oroya's population of 35,000. A study conducted last August by scientists from St. Louis University (Missouri) found that 97.2% of La Oroya's children suffer from "worrisome levels" of lead poisoning and other toxic metals, including arsenic and mercury.

Although Doe Run committed to reduce the La Oroya smelter's air pollution to legal limits by January 2007, the company has indicated it will not be able to meet that obligation and has requested the Peruvian Government to postpone the compliance deadline four more years.

"The Company must have pushed (the mayor) to do this or made promises of some kind to him. Those are the tactics Doe Run tends to use," added Congressman Infantas. The congressman added that Doe Run, on numerous occasions, has used a well-funded public relations campaign to polarize and create conflict among residents of the city, especially recently when the Government of Peru is evaluating the company's postponement request.

Regarding the Doe Run-requested postponement, Infantas noted that "the damage to the environment and to human health has been proven and a postponement of Doe Run's obligations would only make a mockery of the country's laws. I hope that the company's PAMA is not postponed"

The congressman said he would call Minister Glodomiro Sánchez before the Congressional Commission on Energy and Mining next week to explain the postponement request's evaluation process as well as the alternatives the Ministry would propose in the event it denies the company's request. Infantas complained that Doe Run pollutes the environment, does not pay the legally required mineral rights, is not in compliance with Peruvian law, and only causes damage.

Last week, an American environmental scientist, Dr. Mark Chernaik of Eugene, OR, published projections showing that 9 people probably die each year in La Oroya as a result of Doe Run's air pollution. Using data provided by a Doe Run-sponsored report, he noted that the arsenic levels in La Oroya made the probability of contacting cancer there 2000 times higher than the maximum acceptable level established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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