LIMA – A spill at a mining company’s waste well has polluted 80 percent of Peru’s Opamayo River and affected 10 communities in the southern Andean region of Huancavelica, the official Andina news agency reported, citing regional authorities.
The river was contaminated last Friday with 21,420 cubic meters (5.7 million gallons) of waste after the containing wall of a reservoir containing those toxins collapsed.
The river, which flows into the town of Lircay, affected 892 people in the district of Huachocolca, the report said.
The spill also affected animals in areas near the river, prompting the mining firm, Empresa Minera Caudalosa Chica, to launch a cleanup and deliver water and fodder to local residents.
Andina said a delegation of mining and environmental officials, prosecutors and police have arrived at the site of the spill.
The Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations, or CAOI, which comprises groups from Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Chile and Argentina, issued a statement Tuesday saying that the spill has affected more than 10 communities.
It added that the company failed to alert the population, “putting the lives of people, animals and crops that need the waters of these rivers for their survival in serious danger.”
“Local authorities learned about the incident and inspected the area on Saturday, June 26,” the CAOI said.
The statement said the mining company has committed “a criminal attack” against local peasants, because the latter “have consumed trout poisoned with lead and other toxic metals, and the animals kept consuming the polluted water.”
The CAOI demanded that Caudalosa Chica “assume responsibility for this offense” and called on Peru’s Energy and Mines Ministry to apply the maximum penalty because the company is operating “informally and without complying” with a legally required environmental-remediation program. EFE.