Toxic spill leaves 140 ill in Peru
Posted Tue, 07 Aug 2012
A spillage of toxic copper concentrate at a mine in Peru has left more than 100 people needing medical treatment, it is reported.
The incident happened when a pipeline running from the Antamina copper mine to the coast burst under high pressure in the village of Santa Rosa de Cajacay, the Ancash state regional health office said. According to the office, 140 people were treated for "irritative symptoms caused by the inhalation of toxins".
The majority of those who fell ill had joined in an effort to prevent the liquid copper slurry from reaching a nearby river, the community's president Hilario Moran said. Meanwhile, the mine's environmental director Antonio Mendoza said those in the rescue effort used absorbent fabric provided by the mine but were not given gloves or protective masks.
Greg Moller, a professor of environmental chemistry and toxicology at the University of Idaho-Washington State University, has referred to the mine's actions in enlisting the locals' help without adequate protection as "unethical and irresponsible".
Copyright Press Association 2012