La Oroya


Blackwater mercenaries are going to Southern California. WoC PhD writes [I’ve edited her paragraph slightly, and added emphasis to fit my purposes here, but go read her whole piece, it is very interesting]:

Blackwater claims that the facility will be used solely for ‘border related training’ and that their goal is to strengthen the border against ‘illegals.’ [As if this were not bad enough] the scope of the facility and its location would leave a deployable, heavily armed, well-trained, private army poised at two major North American arteries. They could easily be deployed into anyone’s communities and take any actions they could get away with or be covertly sanctioned to do. Their impunity would be enhanced by changes in federal law last year to allow the deployment of the army or contracted paramilitaries on U.S. soil by the Federal Government and its branches.

My major research insight, out of field and from the very early 1980s, was that “we” were acting as we were in Central and South America so as to then bring not only the human rights policies, but also the economic policies then being imposed there, here. I wish I had written an article on it then. Perhaps I should even now, although it is late:

ora ch’è notte
che la mia vita mi pare
una corolla
di tenebre

And the reason I should write that piece is that the game is not yet up. As the Hedonistic Pleasureseeker reminds us, the Blackwaterization of the United States via economic shock therapy is still incomplete and Hillary Clinton is poised to pound the nails into our respective coffins.

Since none of my acceptable Democratic candidates, Kucinich, Richardson, and [Dodd], are likely to win the nomination, I am wondering whether I should re-register as a Republican so as to vote for Ron Paul in the primary. If he – with whom I do not agree on most matters, of course, but who is at least a traditional conservative – were to win the Republican nomination, then it might be possible to defeat the neocons-in-sheep’s-clothing Clinton, [Edwards], and [Obama] and Richardson. Please explain to me any logical problems in this rationale, or any facts I may have failed to take into account.


The Blacksmith Institute has placed La Oroya, Peru, on its 2007 list of the ten most polluted places in the world. Not in the top ten, but in the next twenty, are Mexico City, Mexico, Bajos de Haina, Dominican Republic, Huancavelica, Peru, and the Matanza-Riachuelo River Basin, Argentina. All of the other most polluted places, both in the top ten and in the next twenty, are in the former Soviet Union, Africa, and Asia. No place in the Global North is among the most polluted, of course. Read all about it and look at the very interesting map.

Some travelers say that the train trip from Lima to La Oroya is the most spectacular in the Andes. If I go to Peru this summer perhaps I will take it. I never did before because it seemed so touristy and La Oroya sounded so depressing. I am, however, very fond of the train trip from Puno to Cusco, and my favorite route, when it was still functioning, was from Quito to Guayaquil. You could ride on top with the baggage, and look the volcanoes in the eye, as it were.


15 thoughts on “La Oroya

  1. I reviewed the voting records and speeches (not all, a selection based on consistent application of themes present) of all of the democratic candidates and I am curious as to why you think Richardson is any better than Clinton? He is anti-gay marriage, despite what he has said his voting record is clear, he is pro-militarization again as evidenced by action and deed rather than word, etc. Half way through reviewing the documents, I asked a friend from NM if he was a republican and she laughed outloud and said “I’ve only been here two years, but I thought he was one too until someone told me different.” She also told me that some of her students compare him to bad governors from Texas. So what has swayed you in the other direction on his candidacy?

  2. The claim that he would leave Iraq within the first year of his presidency. This is how I’m dividing the candidates, at least this week. Do you think he is faking on that?

  3. Also: he supports the death penalty (a bad thing) but has changed his mind on LGBT rights (a good thing).

    And there are AA/EOE reasons: I’ve rejected the only woman and the only Black candidate because of their stance on the war. Richardson is half Mexican, i.e. not 100% white, it could be refreshing.

    And if we get Hillary we also get Bill, who actually expanded the Federal death penalty and eroded welfare.

  4. I am not sure what I believe about his statement on the war, particularly since he greeted George Bush in NM several times when he was there to drum up more soldiers for the war effort. I do know that he has given several speeches, just before announcing candidacy, about wanting to end the war. It is hard to say about action and deed on that one.

    I don’t believe his gay marriage stance has changed. He first said he was against it in speech and letters that are public record. Then he gave a televised speech that he was for whatever supported NM while actively allowing the vote to be postponed several times. When his approval rating started to dip over the postponements and he had announced candidacy, he went on record as saying “he changed his mind” both in print interviews and a short psa I was able to dig up.

    He also spent tax payers money on a private jet that he used to drum up funds for his presidential campaign. My friend in NM says that they had ads based on the popular Where is Waldo cartoons that asked “Where in the World is Gov. Bill Richards?” I have not seen them, but she says they played regularly for 1 year as the Gov. neglected his duties to go to fundraisers on NM tax money.

    I cannot support any candidate just on the basis of race or gender, look at Maggie Thatcher or Imelda Marcos. I’m especially concerned with those candidates who are using their race or gender as a reason to vote for them without providing other substantive reasons this includes many speeches by Hillary to female audiences and by Richards all around. While Hillary’s mainstream feminist chops may explain, but not excuse, her behavior, Richards has no corresponding racial-political nationalism/consciousness record to explain his.

    It is complex. (understatement) But thanks for letting me know more in depth what you are thinking. I have enjoyed these public exchanges here, on my blog, and elsewhere b/c they not only help me get clearer on the candidates but I hope help others get needed information about them from multiple sides.

    I face the nomination with both excitement and dread b/c I think a lot of what we have both said here could be said about anyone of the so-called “major” candidates.

  5. I tried to write out a whole thing on Dodd the way I just did with Richardson but I just keep pursing my lips and starting over. Let’s just say for now, I have issues with him – you can find some of them on my review of the GLBTQ debate and my discussion of the “spanish language” debate on my blog. Unlike other candidates, he has been around long enough that his changes of opinion seem less like waffling or vote courting than a general process of change over time. At the same time some of his choices and the way he . . . see I’m doing it again. I’m going to muse on this one and come back.

  6. Yes – normally I’d say he was too conservative for me except that he has for decades been fairly good & consistent on limiting the cowboy nature of our foreign policy.

    In this election, though, I’m going for whoever will repeal the Patriot Act and get out of Iraq/Iran/etc., and make torture illegal again.

    I heard a conservative radio clip about Edwards yesterday that made me want to vote for him: because he’s anti-Patriot Act and anti-torture, and here I was thinking s***, if they hate him this much and for these reasons then I should perhaps be more positive about him.

    I still only like Kucinich and I know he can’t win, and I am trying to figure out to what extent it is true that some of these Democrats are really Republicans. Perhaps the difference is just in degrees of fascism and that some degrees, even if small, matter?

  7. you’ve hit it on the nose, I think Dodd is a conservative. I’ve seen his talks to conservative and progressive audiences and when he talks to progressives he always seems to say the right thing but in the “wrong way” while he seems much more sure of his words and his presence around conservatives. His voting record is progressive on some things, like gay marriage, and regressive on others, like some taxes. I’m looking over my notes right now and honestly, it is more a feeling than a voting record thing with him nothing really major stands out like spending tax payers money on a jet or saying nukes isn’t a possibility in Iran like other candidates.

    I like Kucinich as well. His record is consistent, his speeches are consistent, his political affiliations and service is fairly consistent. His list of top 5 policy things (the stuff everybody is talking about: war, gay marriage, economy, etc.) is all on my blog and give or take they line up with what I am interested in seeing in this country, ie equality, respect for human life here and abroad, a politics of cooperation and alliance building rather than “cowboy justice,” and the decriminalization of things that are unfairly prosecuted.

    Edwards top 5s are also on my blog and they too are in line with a national policy that aids the working class, people of color, rural people, and youth and a foreign policy that emphasizes cooperation and sanction rather than bullying and turning to violence as the only and best solution. He seems a little too comfortable with Hillary though and he has been a part of some shady business dealings in the past – all of which he made right after announcing his candidacy. I saw him up close and was impressed by the way he stopped to talk with and answer every question as he made his way through the crowd no matter how out there, attacking, or congratulatory the speaker was. He seemed particularly astute on class issues and deeply concerned about race issues – though I did sense some paternalism in the latter.

    The people I can go point for point on my notes about inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and fiscal mismanagement are really Hillary and Richards. Obama – I have not notes on for money stuff and his career is too short for any real inconsistencies to show up. He seems consistent and earnest with his voting & stance on the war, the gay marriage issue, economic and social issues at the national level, and a little less seasoned on the international one. I’ve got a list of his top 5s somewhere too.

  8. If Obama isn’t the main nominee I’ll bet he’s the VP nominee. It would be a smart choice *and* he wasn’t there to vote to go into Iraq so he’s at least innocent on that, which is one of the things that causes me to like him.

    I don’t trust these people who say they are “sorry” they voted for the invasion (I and many others would have known not to vote for it! Barbara Lee speaks for me!) and this is one of my main objections to Edwards – although I’m now more favorably disposed to him than I was.

    So, let’s see … my least favorites are Hillary and you’ve convinced me, Richardson, and I am now curious about Mike Gravel, to whom I have not paid attention of late but who is sort of my style:

  9. I’ve got nothing on gravel, like one little scribble from the Logo debate, so thanks for the link! I’m off to read it now.

    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 is between 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 qualification are benevolents; according to my researchs to many years that I am publishing, the Oroya 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 ig/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, 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 fot 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 it is ncreased in the air: lead 1160 %, cadmium 1990 % and arsenic 6006 % (Portugal, et al. Los Humos de Doe Run 2003)

  11. !Gracias por escribir, Godofredo!

    I did not go to La Oroya this summer after all, but I *certainly* noticed all the pollution in Peru. It is very serious, and not enough people take industrial pollution seriously enough.

    ?Tu tienes confianza en este nuevo ministerio del medio ambiente?

  12. CONFIRMED: The Oroya PERÚ is the city most Polluted of the world

    Dr. Godofredo Arauzo

    Blacksmith Institute visited the Oroya city in May 2008. The observations about the achievements in the pollution by this metallurgic complex, according to statements of The Inter American Association for the Defense of the Environment (AIDA) by its name in Spanish.are DECEIVING, because such statements have no basis; is a summary presented by Doe Run. AIDA sustain that the environmental quality and the fulfillment or the degree of protection for human health of the Oroya city can not be evaluated based on the quantity of investment made by the company but it should be done based on the current data about the quality of air, lead level in the blood and another environmental and health indicators, that the report does not take into account (1).
    Critic that Blacksmith is based on limited datum in order to evaluate, for example, the sulphur bioxide (SO2) level in the zone. Blacksmith Institute affirms that the SO2 concentration in the Oroya city has a day time average of 5.000 ug/m3 (maximum allowed is 13 ug/m3) (CDC); but during the day that Blacksmith was in the Oroya, the SO2 concentration was 0.(1)
    Finally AIDA concludes that the Blacksmith report undermines the efforts to really reach the remediation and cleaning of Oroya city (1)
    AIDA express too that the quality of air in the Oroya has deteriorated seriously after the metallurgic complex came into Doe Run’s hands. Doe Run itself said that the lead concentration raised to 1.163%, the arsenic to 606% and the cadmium to 1990% (2). The concentrations of lead, cadmium, arsenic, sulphur dioxide and others have substantially increased since 1997, mainly due to the increasing of production; for example, the lead production raised 25% (3). The inhabitants of Oroya city are contaminated by a toxic cocktail (4); it is a living laboratory.
    The cadmium concentration (Cd) raised dramatically since the acquisition of the complex by Doe Run. In 1999 the Cd concentration was 0.22 ug/m3 in the Syndicate (the level allowed was 0.0055 ug/m3); it surpassed by more than 40 times the frontier and did not inform anymore to the Ministry for Mines and Energy (MEM) since year 2000; in the same way, the arsenic concentration soared meaningly since 1997. There is not monitoring of particulate material smaller than 2.5 micra (PM 2.5), that are the most dangerous to human health and move easily. Ceverstav says that the parameters of air quality have been deteriorated dramatically after Doe Run have in charge of the complex (5)
    The Environment Protection Agency of USA (EPA), has 1467 chemical compounds registered as the most harmful and the sulphur dioxide (SO2) is ranking number 16 in dangerousness (6). Cevestav showed based on the same figures that Doe Run sends to MEM every 3 months, that SO2 emission had incremented in more than 200% since Doe Run has in charge the complex (5).
    Blacksmith affirms that the SO2 concentration in the Oroya is in average 5,000 ug/m3 (1); another author reports that this average is 934 ug/m3 (2); the level allowed is 13 ug/m3 (7). The day time concentration is higher between 8 am and 5 pm and it reaches a peak of 2,100 ppb (the allowed value is 280 ppb) (5). In August 13. 2008 the SO2 concentration arrived to an historic and horrifying limit: 27,000 ug/m3 (8-9-10) (the allowed figure is 13 ug/m3 (7).
    Another heavy metals and highly toxic compounds are not analysed in the Oroya: vanadium, uranium, mercury, antimony, barium, selenium, chromium, cobalt, molybdenum, nickel, and aluminum (2). The inhabitants of the Oroya are contaminated, not only with lead but too with cadmium, arsenic, sulphur dioxide, and antimony, as well; the antimony concentration is 30 times higher than in USA (11): .
    There has not been any decrease in the air concentration of lead in the last 5 years in the Oroya; in Huanchan such concentration is above 15 times the level permitted; in the months of January and February 2007 it was an excess of 245% above the allowed level in Huanchan station; in 2006 the cadmium concentration exceeded 48 times the levels allowed by the WHO (12): lead production increased by 25% (2).
    Doe Run monitors only specific sources; it does not monitor the toxic agents that are emitted through the 95 small chimneys neither it monitors to the deposits of concentrateds and deposits to arsenic of Vados and Malpaso, as it does not monitor either the elimination coming from the industrial incinerator and the cock plant that was emitting 23,800 meters cubits per day of toxic gases (PAMA).
    Doe Run explained that the pollution of the Oroya had diminished; one attendant person spitted that the pollution has increased; the lecturer answered: show me a document about your statement and the person replied: the best document who I count of is my contaminated body’ (4).
    The SO2 emissions from the cooper Peruvian smelting are among the production sources of the highest sulphur dioxide concentration in the world and they are also among the most contaminated production sources in the world (13).
    There is not concrete information about the quality control systems to the sampling and to the analysis of the monitoring procedure used by the company; we are not certain about the accuracy, confidentiality and suitable of the information reported to MEM; the figures reported to MEM could be considered as an approximation and are under valuated and they are not in electronic neither in graphic form (5).
    The contamination generated in La Oroya is not only limited to this city, but it also pollutes distant areas like Concepcion, 100 km far away of Oroya: University of Missouri found lead in the blood of children with ages 0 to 6 years: 20 to 44 ug/dl in the 72.22% ; 10 to 19 ug/dl in the 16.67%; 45 to 69 ug/dl in the 8.33% and less than 10 ug/dl in the 2.78%; it means that the 97.22% of the children of the city of Conception are contaminated with more than 10 ug/dl of lead in their blood; the amount permitted was 10 ug/dl; but, at present the Academy of Paediatrics of USA says that the maximum allowed is 0 ug/dl of lead in the blood (14). In the rural zone near the Oroya, Cuchimachay there is an amount of 59.26 ppm (the allowed level being 3 ppm) of cadmium in the soil; there is no vegetal cap in this place (15).
    The metallurgic complex of Oroya has 37 liquid flows that go to the Mantaro river; Doe Run monitors only 12. The rules of the Peruvian state about monitoring of the quality of water in the mining works state that all the liquid discharges that go to surface waters must be constantly monitored (5-16).
    The 2006, 26 July Doe Run obtained the ISO 14001:2004 certificate (17) and the 2008, 11 March was removed because the company did not fulfull the Peruvian environmental laws, and did not have appropriate measures for preventing the pollution (18).
    Doe Run the 2007 commited 4 heavy and 1 simple violence environment that the Peruvian state had to put to Doe Run a fine to $ 724,500 (The Comercio 08. 20-12)
    In Huancayo, 120 km far away from La Oroya there is jurisprudence. In 1942 the Judiciary Power orders to the Cerro de Pasco Copper Corporation, owner of Oroya at that time, to pay a compensation of $ 200,000 to Bazo Velarde, because of the harms caused to the Jatunhuasi Livestock, by the smokes of the Oroya (19).
    The Judiciary Power (20), the Constitutional Court (21) and the Inter American Commission for Human Rights (CIDH, for its name in Spanish) (22), demanded that the Peruvian state to be aware about the health of the inhabitants of Oroya..
    Oroya pollutes the surface and deep waters, the soil, the air, and generates acid rain (23), factors that cause damages to human and animal health, the ecosystems and biodiversity, in a way greatly irreversible. The smokes of the Oroya have affected 700,000 hectares around the Oroya (2-24).
    Doe Run will reduce its contamination in two circumstances: when it uses up to date technology as put in practice in Herculeanum, or when it reduces the refining tons. The Trial plant, in Canada, decreased in 25% the lead concentration in the children blood, and reduced the concentration of heavy metals in the air in more than 75%, by the use of clean technology; in the Paso when the foundry was closed, the lead concentration in the air decreased immediately and the lead concentration in the children’s blood plummeted by more than 75%; in Torreón Mexico, the government ordered to refine only a 50%, and similar effects were obtained (5). The damages must be paid by Doe Run according to the world consensus THE THAT POLLUTE PAY, set in practice in Europe since 1972 (25); the way as it does in Herculaneum can reply these actions in Oroya city (2-27).
    .The 2008 August 13 Oroya city has been confirmed as the most polluted city to the world. This day the SO2 concentration in air in the Oroya reached an historical and horrifying level: as journal The Comercio said (8); it arrive 27,000 ug/m3; while the allowed level was 13 ug/m3 (7) and the device that measured the concentration got to its maximum limit probably if the device had had more space in its scale that figure would have been higher (8-9-10), but when Blacksmith was visiting the Oroya the SO2 concentration in air was 0 (zero) (1). Some other figures confirm that Oroya is the most polluted city on the earth: according the report Mantaro Revive 2007: in the Ancienty Oroya has a soil concentration of 4713 ppm of arsenic (As) while the allowed amount is 12 ppm, and the cadmium (Cd) has 193.87 ppm while the permitted amount is 14 ppm, according to the Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines (28).

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