Human Rights Court finds Peru guilty of violating residents’ right to a healthy environment – ​​Firstpost



The Andean city of La Oroya, located in a high valley at 3,750 meters (12,300 feet) above sea level, is home to a heavy metal smelter that has been polluting residents and the environment for almost a century. AFP

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights declared on Friday that Peru had violated residents’ “right to live in a healthy environment” in the Andean mining town of La Loloya, notorious for its heavy pollution.

Located in a high valley at 3,750 meters (12,300 feet) above sea level, La Oroya is home to a heavy metal smelter that has been contaminating both residents and the surrounding environment for nearly a century.

After decades of continued pollution, a group of La Oroya residents filed a lawsuit against the Peruvian government to demand action against environmental degradation.

Known for its staggering levels of pollution, La Loya is one of the most contaminated places in the world, along with other notorious locations such as Chernobyl in Ukraine, contaminated by the nuclear disaster, and Dzerzhinsk, Russia, known for its Cold War-era chemical weapons facilities. appears frequently on the list.

In a legally binding judgment, a Costa Rica-based court held the Peruvian state responsible for “violations of the rights to a healthy environment, health, personal integrity and dignified life.” “It will be a disadvantage to the 80 victims,” ​​he instigated the lawsuit.

Court orders Peru to conduct pollution analysis of La Loya’s air, water and soil, provide free medical care to victims and adapt acceptable standards for lead, sulfur dioxide, arsenic, mercury and particulate matter Ta.

“We’ve been waiting for this for over 20 years,” said Yolanda Zurita, one of the plaintiffs. He currently lives in the town of Matafasi, about 60 kilometers from La Oroya.

The 65-year-old said she “couldn’t become a mother” due to contamination in her previous home, but did not provide further details. She also suffers from her seizures and lung and pancreatic problems.

“We have served justice. The verdict is in favor of the contaminated people,” plaintiff and former teacher Manuel Enrique Apolinario, 68, told AFP by phone from La Oroya.

“The Peruvian state must now fully comply with the ruling.”

– “Significant health risk” –

Long the center of La Oroya’s economy since 1922, the huge smelter has processed copper, zinc, lead, gold, selenium and other minerals from nearby mines.

The court said the complex “pollutes the air, water and soil and has a significant impact on the environment.”

The ruling also stated that “exposure to lead, cadmium, arsenic, and sulfur dioxide posed serious risks to the victims’ health, and the victims did not receive adequate medical care from the state.”

In 2013, the International Federation for Human Rights announced that 97 percent of children in La Loya between six months and six years of age and 98 percent of those between seven and 12 years old had elevated blood lead levels.

The smelter went bankrupt in 2009, devastating the town’s economy, but was reopened last year under the management of a company made up of about 1,300 shareholders, many of them former foundry workers. It opened.

The new government has promised not to further pollute the town. The town is a cluster of small houses clustered around towering black chimneys, surrounded by gray mountain slopes that have long been devoid of vegetation and have been corroded by heavy metals.

With information from AFP

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