Peru declares environmental emergency over mine waste water

July 7th, 2010 - 9:01 am ICT by IANS  

Lima, July 7 (DPA) The Peruvian government Tuesday declared a state of environmental emergency in a central Peruvian mining district after a wastewater storage dam collapsed and leaked poisonous chemicals into the local rivers.
The declaration by the Peruvian Department of the Environment was to apply for 90 days, the ministry said.

The measure was intended to support the government’s efforts to stem the looming ecological disaster in the region of Huancavelica. In late June, the storage dam of the Caudalosa Chica company collapsed, spreading more than 21,000 cubic metres of water laden with heavy metals from the mining operations.

The Andean district of Huancavelica is one of Peru’s poorer regions. More than 40 percent of the population, mostly farmers, take water from the local streams for their own drinking water, for their animals and for their crops.

Indigenous Indio groups charge that the company did not warn the local population about the pollution of the streams. The firm mines lead, zinc, copper and silver.

Mining has major importance for Peru’s economy, but at enormous cost to the environment.

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