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A new environmental disaster has hit the rural communities of Peru. This time an area of the central department of Huancavelica was affected by a leak of toxic substances of mining corporation La Caudalosa Chica.
The residents of Aymaraes province, one of the areas worst affected by the leak, began a general strike on Wednesday to protest against the pollution on Opomayo river, in order to expose the incident before the environmental authorities, which have not answered to the situation properly, they claimed.
The local leader Carlos Candietti criticized in an interview with the Coordinadora Nacional de Radios (CNR) the “irresponsible attitude” of the mining corporation and threatened to carry out an indefinite national strike in case the authorities do not respond to the peoples demands.
He said that the toxic materials have already damaged at least thirteen peasant communities of Huancavelica, and also warned about a growing fish mortality – mainly trout- in Opomayo river, and about the health risk run by the whole population.
“Not only 80% of the Opomayo river is polluted, but 100% of the Lircay basin”, emphasized the local representative.
The Ministry of Environment published a decree this week to declare an “environmental state of emergency” for 90 days, in order to enable the “recovery of the environmental quality and the living conditions in the affected area.
Last June 25, nearly 21,000 cubic meters of waste were spilled in the rivers Opamayo and Escalera, causing serious consequences on a 70-square kilometer surface.
The response of the Peruvian organizations to the tragedy was immediate. The Andean Coordination of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI) accused the mining corporation because it failed to warn the population after the incident, thus endangering the “lives of men, animals and crops”, while the National Confederation of Communities Affected by Mining in Peru (CONACAMI) demanded the definitive closing down of the corporation for committing a “criminal act” against the peasant communities.
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