99% OF THE CHILDREN IN LA OROYA HAVE LEAD POISONING
It Just Might Be The Smelter
This smelting plant is locted in the middle of La Oroya, Peru, an Andean town not far from Lima. Built in 1922, the massive complex processes copper, lead and zinc, and in the process emits lead, cadmium, arsenic, antimony and sulfur dioxide. That’s why the people, soil, air and water around here. But the plant is also the main source of jobs.
The owner of the smelter since 1997, Doe Run-Peru is a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Doe Run (in turn owned by a toxic Ira Rennert and his privately held Renco). At the time of the purchase, Doe Run agreed to modernize the plants and bring emissions down to acceptable levels by 2006. At present, according to the St. Louis Dispatch, the plant generates annual discharges of roughly 32 tons of lead, 36 tons of poisonous arsenic and 69,000 tons of the toxic metal cadmium into the nearby Mantaro River. Between 2002 and 2004, lead emissions through the main smokestack at La Oroya increased by 33 percent. In February 2004, the company requested a five-year extension on its obligations.