La Oroya is a town in central Peru, capital of the province Yauli. It is located in the Peruvian Andes at an altitude of about 4,000 meters.
In September 2007, environmental health organization Blacksmith Institute listed La Oroya as one of the World's Worst Polluted Places'' because of pollution generated at the poly-metallic smelting plant currently owned by the Doe Run Company. :
Since 1922, inhabitants and the town and region around La Oroya, Peru - a mining town in the Peruvian Andes and the site of a poly-metallic smelter - have been exposed to the toxic emissions and wastes from the plant. Prior to the purchase of the plant in 1997 from the Peruvian government by the New York City-based Renco Group, the plant had no environmental controls and effluants and emissions were uncontrolled for 55 years. As part of the purchase agreement Doe Run agreed to remediate certain environmental issues. Althogh the company has spent more than $107 million improving the pollution and has reduced air pollution by 25 percent and water pollution by 90 percent, La Oroya is still an evironmental blight. Peru's Clean Air Act cites La Oroya in a list of Peruvian towns suffering from critical levels of air pollution.
Studies conducted by the Director General of Environmental Health in Peru in 1999 (2 years after the smelter was acquired by Doe Run) showed that ninety-nine percent of children living in and around La Oroya have blood-lead levels that exceed acceptable amounts. The drinking water of La Oroya has been shown to contain 50 percent more lead than the levels recommended by the World Health Organization. These studies have also shown high levels of air pollution, with 85 times more arsenic, 41 times more cadmium and 13 times more lead than amounts considered safe.
According to National Geographic, A metal smelter run by the Missouri-based Doe Run Company has operated in the remote settlement since 1922...Exposure to the smelter's pollution has led to dangerously high blood lead levels in nearly all of La Oroya's children...Lung ailments are widespread, and high numbers of premature death have been linked to the smelter's emissions...Likewise, acid rain from sulfur dioxide pollution has destroyed much of the vegetation in the area.
Because Doe Run Company is the only major employer in the city, union leaders and the mayor have often resisted government attempts to address the pollution in ways which would impact the employment opportunities for the community. In a 2007 press release, Doe Run announced that it would appeal a fine levied on it by Peruvian regulators for surpassing emissions standards in La Oroya. Jose Mogrovejo, Doe Run Perus vice president for environmental affairs, said that infractions were not of a magnitude that could harm the environment: "Our concern is that people could infer from reading the resolution that it says we have damaged the environment, and that is not the case."
Instituto Nacional de Estadistica e Informatica. Banco de Informacion Digital. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
Portal of La Oroya
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