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article imagePeru wants to sell dirty smelter but has to lower air standards

By Karen Graham     Apr 9, 2017 in Environment
La Oroya - Peru's La Oroya polymetallic smelting plant has been for sale since the company who owned it went bankrupt in 2009. So Peru is proposing to loosen air quality standards in some parts of the country to attract buyers, despite the plant's dirty past.
The decision by the Andean country's Environment Ministry late Saturday is actually nothing new. In January 2017, a proposed auction of the La Oroya smelter, supported by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, drew the interest of five companies.
But the interested parties were turned off by Peru's air quality standards. At the time, the prospective buyers were aware of the possibility of changes to the regulations and decided to hold off on bidding until they could see for themselves what would come of the new standards.
However, according to Reuters, the government's new proposal is serious and would include changing several parts of the country's environmental quality standards, including raising the sulfur dioxide emission limit to levels in line with other countries in the region including Chile, Colombia and Mexico.
The country is desperate to sell the plant, as well as a small copper mine. The government is planning a new series of auctions before an August deadline for selling the facility. The proposed standards have been pre-published and are now open for a 10-day public comment period.
In an image taken in 2016  the La Oroya smelter  which sits near the town s population center is see...
In an image taken in 2016, the La Oroya smelter, which sits near the town's population center is seen. Notice the barren mountainsides.
Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies - Yale University
Of course, the proposed standards change does not mention the need to sell the smelter, but to some environmentalists, it looks like Peru is putting the environment second over economic growth, something President Trump has done in the United States.
Pollution problems with the La Oroya smelter
La Oroya was bought by Doe Run, (whose parent company was The Renco Group, Inc.), in 1997 for US$247 million. The company also bought a small copper mine, the Cobriza copper mine, south of La Oroya, for US$7.5 million. Until Doe Run took bankruptcy in 2009, they owned 99.97 percent of La Oroya.
La Oroya was made up of a copper and lead smelter and zinc refinery. The plant also dealt with 'dirty concentrates' produced by a number of local mines. They included gold and silver, antimony, arsenic trioxide, bismuth, cadmium, indium, selenium, tellurium, sulfuric acid, and oleum.
Under the leadership of its coordinator  Congressman Casio Huaire Chuquichaico  the Junin Parliament...
Under the leadership of its coordinator, Congressman Casio Huaire Chuquichaico, the Junin Parliamentary Group held a meeting in which legislators expressed concerns about the Doe Run case affecting the population of La Oroya and the modernization of the Jauja airport. (Translation by Google Translate).
Congreso de la República del Perú
More about Peru, smelter sale, air quality standards, La Oroya, polymetalic smelter
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