A former executive at Boliden Metall who helped send 20 tons of toxic waste in Chile’s northern city of Arica in the 1980s this week urged the company he used to work for to help clean up the mess and pay damages to local residents victimized by the toxic dump.
Shantytown dwellers who built houses near the toxic waste dump in the late 1980s and early 1990s have been diagnosed with various life-threatening diseases believed related the nearby lead and arsenic.“At the time (1982) I was totally unaware of the environmental dangers it would cause and to what extent this would impact on the local residents,” said Rolf Svedberg, Boliden’s former head of Environmental Issues.
Boliden contracted processing company PROMEL to dump the contaminated minerals in the outskirts of Arica between 1984 and 1989, with the consent of local health authorities.
Arica residents living near the toxic dump have been plagued by a wide range of ailments, including arthritis, cancer and impotence. Government and health authorities refused to acknowledge any problem until 1998 and then tried to clean up the toxic waste. Blood test results that confirmed the severity of arsenic poisoning suffered by local residents were not disclosed until years after the blood tests had been taken.
Meanwhile, tension continues to boil between Arica residents and the local authorities who allowed the waste to be dumped and then failed to keep the shantytown from developing on top of the toxic grounds.
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