Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"Marketplace" report on La Oroya, Peru

Today, the American Public Media radio show "Marketplace" aired a story on La Oroya, Peru, probably the most polluted place I've ever visited. The American owners, Doe Run may be taking steps to improve the situation, but clearly, for those living in this city, each day is a struggle to survive and to correct the dubious accounting of corporate balance sheets.

You can read Jon Miller's full dispatch (from which the above report is taken) on "Frontline's World" site.

See also the story "Lead Astray" with appeared in the November/December 2006 issue of "Mother Jones".

Here are some comments I made in November 2005:

I snuck into Doe Run's grounds to take this picture of the bucket conveyor delivering slag to enormous piles. I very quickly found myself choking from the sulfur dioxide in the air. It attacks the mucous membranes in the nasal passages, throat and lungs. In the background, behind the plant, is the town of La Oroya. Though the SO2 may be the most obvious hazardous emission, lead poisoning is the primary concern for the community. Most children in La Oroya have elevated levels of lead in their blood. The CDC went to La Oroya this year and found no plan in place to address lead and other contaminants. Doe Run is in the process of implementing CDC's recommendations. (By Doe Run's own measurements though, the maximum allowable SO2 emissions are 195 tons per day, September's actuals - the last month on their chart - were 803 tons per day! SO2 is produced when lead ore is sintered in ovens to remove the sulfur.)


garauzo@email said...

The years 2006 and 2007 the Blacksmith Institute have accomplished a research about the cities more contaminated to the world and arrived to the conclusion that the Oroya city was between the 10 cities more polluted of the world and, the environment Graffiti 2008 said that is between five more pollute too to the world and the 2008 Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland say that Oroya is between the most polluted of the world. This qualifications are benevolents; according to my researchs to many years who I am publishing, the Oroya city is the more polluted to Peru, Latin America and of the world and every day is being more polluted: lead in blood in children in the Ancient Oroya in average 53.7 ug/dl ( DIGESA 1999); pregnancies women 39.49 ig/dl ( UNES 2000), new borns children 19.06 ug/dl, puerperal 319 ug/100 grams/placenta ( Castro 2003) and workers 50 ug/dl ( Doe Run 2003).Top lead in blood accepted 10 ug/dl; present day is 0 ug/dl ( Pediatric of Academy to USA)
When the Oroya city was in hands to the CentroMin eliminated only by the upper chimney to 167.500 meters, in average by day in tons: sulfur dioxide 1000, lead 2500, arsenic 2500, cadmium 40, particulate matter 50 and so on, more 24,000 to toxis gas product to the incomplete combustion of the coal, without count it is eliminated by industrial incinerator y by the 97 smalls chimneys, it is estimated 15,000; overall 45,000 tons for day (PAMA . El Complejo Metalúrgico de la Oroya, 1996); other research say that by this chimney only eliminate overall 119¨917,440 tons too every day to a velocity to 8.7 meters by second ( Chuquimantari C. Yauli-La Oroya Minería y Ciudades Empresas Pág. 57, 1992)
Doe Run envoy every three months the concentrations of the heavy metals to the Ministry to the Energy and Mines and with the sames datums Ceverstav have demostrated the pollution was increased; for example the sulfur dioxide it have increased in near to 300 %, by increment to the production (Cederstav. La Oroya no Espera 2002
The American Association to the Environment say that the environmental quality to the Oroya it is serious deteriorated since that Doe Run was owner and the same enterprise
declared that the concentrations of the heavy metals gas is ncreased in the air: lead 1160 %, cadmium 1990 % and arsenic 6006 % (Portugal, et al. Los Humos de Doe Run 2003)

timtraveler said...


Thank you for this post.

From your data, it is not clear to me. Are you saying that current conditions in La Oroya are deteriorating?

According to this site, there are claims of progress being made:

Thanks, again.