[House Hearing, 112 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
DEADLY U.S. MINE POLLUTION IN PERU
SUBCOMMITTEE ON AFRICA, GLOBAL HEALTH,
AND HUMAN RIGHTS
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
JULY 19, 2012
Serial No. 112-171
Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.foreignaffairs.house.gov/
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COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
DAN BURTON, Indiana GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
ELTON GALLEGLY, California ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American
DANA ROHRABACHER, California Samoa
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey--
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California deceased 3/6/12 deg.
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio BRAD SHERMAN, California
RON PAUL, Texas ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
MIKE PENCE, Indiana GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
JOE WILSON, South Carolina RUSS CARNAHAN, Missouri
CONNIE MACK, Florida ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
JEFF FORTENBERRY, Nebraska GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
TED POE, Texas DENNIS CARDOZA, California
GUS M. BILIRAKIS, Florida BEN CHANDLER, Kentucky
JEAN SCHMIDT, Ohio BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
BILL JOHNSON, Ohio ALLYSON SCHWARTZ, Pennsylvania
DAVID RIVERA, Florida CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY, Connecticut
MIKE KELLY, Pennsylvania FREDERICA WILSON, Florida
TIM GRIFFIN, Arkansas KAREN BASS, California
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
ANN MARIE BUERKLE, New York
RENEE ELLMERS, North Carolina
ROBERT TURNER, New York
Yleem D.S. Poblete, Staff Director
Richard J. Kessler, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey, Chairman
JEFF FORTENBERRY, Nebraska KAREN BASS, California
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
ANN MARIE BUERKLE, New York RUSS CARNAHAN, Missouri
ROBERT TURNER, New York THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
C O N T E N T S
His Excellency Pedro Barreto, Archdiocese of Huancayo, Peru...... 7
Ms. Rosa Amaro, president, Movement for the Health of La Oroya... 14
Fernando Serrano, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental and
occupational health, School of Public Health, St. Louis
Mr. Keith Slack, global program manager, Oxfam America........... 35
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
His Excellency Pedro Barreto: Prepared statement................. 9
Ms. Rosa Amaro: Prepared statement............................... 15
Fernando Serrano, Ph.D.: Prepared statement...................... 20
Mr. Keith Slack: Prepared statement.............................. 37
Hearing notice................................................... 50
Hearing minutes.................................................. 51
POISON HARVEST: DEADLY U.S. MINE POLLUTION IN PERU
THURSDAY, JULY 19, 2012
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health,
and Human Rights,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2 o'clock
p.m., in room 2200, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon.
Christopher H. Smith (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. Smith. Good afternoon, and thank you for being here.
Today's hearing will examine the human tragedy that is an
unfortunate but largely preventable byproduct of development.
On the one hand, the world at large needs materials, such as
gold, silver, copper, and lead, and people gain employment in
the extractive industry.
But extracting the myriad of metals and minerals from the
Earth often has a dark side and results in elevated health
hazards for the people who work at or live in proximity to
mines and the facilities that process these minerals.
Since 1922, a metallic smelter has operated in the La Oroya
region of Peru, and has been the almost sole source of
employment for the area's now 30,000 residents. In 1974, the
Government of Peru nationalized the facility and, in 1997, sold
it back to the private sector. The buyer was an American
company, Doe Run Resources Corporation, of St. Louis, Missouri.
Both parties acknowledged that there was considerable pollution
both within and outside the facility.
Under the purchase agreement, Doe Run was to clean up the
smelter complex, while the Government of Peru was supposed to
clean areas outside of the facility. Unfortunately, cleanup has
been much more difficult than perhaps either side or either
party seem to have anticipated. Doe Run faced nine phases in
the Peru-mandated environmental cleanup program. Company
spokespeople tell us that they spent more than $300 million and
completed more than eight of the nine phases. However, repeated
extensions provided by the Peruvian Government for the cleanup
were not enough to complete the process, which cost much more
than originally estimated.
When word circulated that the company might not get another
extension, the banks declined to continue providing working
capital, and after vendors went unpaid, the government shut
down the Doe Run Peru smelter in 2009. Earlier this year, the
Blacksmith Institute, an international nonprofit organization
dedicated to fighting the effects of pollution in developing
countries, confirmed Doe Run's account of making progress in
ending pollution from the smelter, as well as the company's
claim of continuing to pay the workers even after the smelter
was closed down.
In 2007, the Blacksmith Institute had listed the La Oroya
site as one of the most polluted in the world. Even though much
of the cleanup at the smelter reportedly has been accomplished,
the facility cannot be operated in an environmentally safe
manner until the final phase is completed. The matter is now in
the hands of the arbiters. But while the smelter has not
polluted La Oroya since 2009, the residents of this area and
indeed Peruvians miles away from this facility still face
significant negative environmental and health effects from the
nearly 90 years of pollution from the smelter site. A study on
pollution at the site presented earlier this year by our
witness Dr. Fernando Serrano, showed that 3,312 tons of
particulate matter has been released from the site each year,
along with 847 tons of lead, 423 tons of arsenic, 226 tons of
nitrogen oxides, and 43 tons of cadmium.
Even at relatively small levels in the body, these elements
can negatively impact children's development permanently.
Minimal effects include the loss of IQ and hearing and growth
problems and at much higher levels can cause brain damage,
seizures, and even death. The level of toxic elements found in
residents of La Oroya is three to six times the United States
average. These substances in the environment have robbed
generations of children and adults in this area of the lives
that they should have had.
To properly clean up the environment outside the smelter
facility, it is estimated that as much as 3 feet of topsoil has
to be removed and cleaned through an incineration process
before being replaced. The cost is high because two rivers pass
through this area, carrying contaminated soil and water
downstream. In addition to the negative health impact to those
who drink the water, the crops and livestock fed by the waters
on contaminated soils constitute a poison harvest for residents
as far away as the capital of Lima.
In addition to the health issues posed by this
environmental disaster, an even broader interest is the
effectiveness of the free trade agreements, such as the United
States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement. Congress has oversight
over such agreements, and we must ensure that after we have
approved these pacts, that they live up to the promises that
led to their original approval.
The U.S. Government must ensure that American companies
carry out their end of the bargain. But it is also our
responsibility to determine whether the government in question
has lived up to its part of the agreement. In this case, the
Government of Peru faces a truly daunting task of cleaning up
decades of mineral contamination from this smelter alone. It is
an unenviable task, but one on which the well-being of Peru's
citizens depends. We had hoped to ask the administration about
this matter at this hearing today, especially how it manages
the implementation of the FTAs.
Unfortunately, the Department of State, U.S. Agency for
International Development, and Environmental Protection Agency
all declined our invitation to testify today. Whatever the
reason, our Government cannot just approve trade agreements. We
also have the responsibility to see that these agreements are
fully, effectively, and fairly implemented.
So we will again invite these U.S. agencies to come here
and give testimony and answer questions. Environmental damage
in Peru is our concern, not just because we care about the
suffering people outside of our borders, which we do, we
absolutely do, but it is also because we have a responsibility
to make sure our own companies aren't at fault.
Doe Run admits polluting the area from the smelter facility
over more than a decade. However, the smelter has been in
operation for nearly 90 years, and the accumulated pollution
will endanger Peru's people even if the smelter never operates
again. We will hear today from four distinguished witnesses,
including Archbishop Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno of the
Archdiocese of Huancayo, Peru, who will testify. I note
parenthetically before briefly quoting him, that the genesis of
this hearing came out of a meeting that Greg Simpkins and I had
with the archbishop several months ago. He provided an enormous
amount of documentation to our subcommittee about this issue.
And that is why we are here today. So I thank the archbishop
for that. He will say that this is a matter of grave concern,
not just to the citizens and residents of La Oroya and of Peru,
but also to the world, and in particular to the United States.
``Frankly, I have been very--'' this is him speaking--``very
critical of Doe Run Peru for its constant noncompliance with
environmental standards as it operates this metallurgical
He also points out that he has been the victim of death
threats and hostility directed at him in his role as bishop and
pastor of his flock.
Similar threats have been leveled against another witness
today who will testify, Ms. Rosa Amaro. I will include in the
record some of their statements, which I thought were very,
very telling, but they will make those I know in just a few
Just let me say that in the United States, it was not until
the enactment of the Comprehensive Environmental Response,
Compensation, and Liability Act, PL 96-510, commonly called the
Superfund law, that the United States got serious about
cleaning up toxic waste sites. Additionally, numerous laws to
mitigate pollution at its source have also reduced common day
pollution in the United States and are a model for the world.
Thousands of what we call Superfund sites that are on what we
call the National Priority Listing, including 112 sites in my
own home State of New Jersey, have been rendered clean or have
had serious mitigation action done, including capping and
One example in my district is the Roebling Steel Mill in
Roebling, New Jersey. The business, formed and run by John A.
Roebling, engineered and built such landmarks as the Brooklyn
Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Niagara Falls Suspension
Bridge. Unfortunately, the environmental disaster left after
Roebling shuttered its gates had cost more than $80 million to
clean up. So I fully understand the challenges facing the
Government of Peru and its industry.
Finally, the La Oroya crisis offers a major test of our FTA
process. How we live up to our responsibilities to uphold our
end of the international trade agreements, such as the United
States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, will determine the value
of future agreements. Our witnesses today will tell, I know
because I have now read their testimonies, a chilling story of
how legitimate commerce can sometimes threaten the life of
those who live near a mineral wealth. What God has provided as
a blessing must not be allowed to come, remain or become a
curse through sickness and disability. I would like to now
yield to my good friend and colleague the ranking member, Ms.
Ms. Bass. Once again, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for
holding today's hearing and raising this issue of environmental
contamination caused by the smelting complex in La Oroya, Peru.
There is no question that the leaching of high levels of
heavy metals in the surrounding environment from the complex
has put the health of the local population at risk,
particularly those most vulnerable, including children,
pregnant women, and the elderly. I hope this hearing provides
an opportunity to better understand the current situation
regarding pending bankruptcy hearings, community efforts to
raise awareness around public safety, and what continued
contamination may cause for those in the surrounding areas.
I will also be particularly interested in hearing today's
witnesses remark on the United States-Peru Trade Promotion
Agreement, and how its health and environmental provisions are
enforced, and what more can be done to strengthen enforcement
requirements. We must see to it that companies and governments
alike adhere to international standards and agreements, and
that they honor commitments that place the well-being of
citizens before that of profit. It must be acknowledged that
the health and security of people is in the best interests of
the state and therefore should be pursued without fail.
The 90-year history of mining activities in La Oroya goes
back to 1922, in a metallic smelter complex high in the Andes,
which my colleague has already described. I understand that the
Peruvian Government took over that operation in 1974, and in
1997, it was transferred to the Metal Oroya company. That same
year, Metal Oroya was acquired by the Doe Run Resource
Corporation of Missouri.
It is my understanding that under the terms of the merger,
Doe Run, in full cooperation with the Peruvian Government,
committed to invest funds for the fulfillment of a proportion
of Metal Oroya's environmental adjustment and management
program. Legislation passed in 1993 required all mining
companies to work with the government to protect the
environment and ensure that certain standards were followed.
We have heard of the detrimental effects on the Doe Run-
owned complex and surrounding environment and the effect it has
had on the health of the local community. Large amounts of
lead, copper, zinc, and sulfur dioxide from the site, I
understand, have affected over 35,000 people, and the level of
toxins found in the residents of La Oroya are three to six
times the U.S. average for acceptable levels.
Data shows that nearly all children and seven out of 10
adults in La Oroya were found to have more than 10 micrograms
of lead in their blood, a level that we know results in IQ loss
and hearing, learning, language, and growth problems in
children. At these levels, lead toxicity can also cause cancer
of the kidneys, and at a higher level, it can lead to more
serious problems, including brain damage and anemia. I just
have to tell you, as I read about this situation, I found it
particularly outrageous, considering in our country I certainly
remember--and I look forward to hearing from one of the
witnesses in particular, Ms. Rosa Amaro, because I remember
what happened in our country. And as my colleague here
mentioned the laws that were put into place, the Superfund, I
remember on the other side, which was a grass roots community
movement that led to the legislation being changed. And I
imagine when we hear from Mrs. Amaro that she will describe a
similar grass roots movement.
Well, through that movement in the United States, it led to
us taking lead out of paint. And so it is illegal now to paint
houses in our country with lead. And we are just talking about
the paint that is in a house. People in this community have
lived where they have had to deal with toxins spewed into the
air. And I just think it is outrageous and unacceptable. And I
am going to be very interested to hear what the community has
done to respond to this and how we can continue to be
supportive in your efforts.
So, once again, Mr. Chair, thank you very much for having
this hearing, and I look forward to the testimony from the
Mr. Smith. Thank you very much, Ms. Bass.
Before going to Mr. Carnahan, we also took lead out of our
Ms. Bass. Yes, exactly.
Mr. Smith. Comprehensive efforts to lessen or mitigate
Ms. Bass. Because we know the damage.
Mr. Smith. Exactly. I would like to yield now to my friend
and colleague, Mr. Carnahan.
Mr. Carnahan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and ranking member.
It is good to be here, to be having this hearing today.
I want to first welcome Dr. Fernando Serrano from St. Louis
University. Thank you for your presence here today.
Dr. Serrano's studies have shed important light on the
environmental contamination related to the La Oroya smelter
facility and its effects on public health, especially the risks
to children. Dr. Serrano's work has found that La Oroya's
population levels for many of the most toxic metals are more
than three to six times the U.S. average, with dangerously
elevated lead levels found in the blood of 97 percent of
children between 6 months and 6 years of age, and 98 percent of
those between 7 and 12 years old.
In 2007, the Blacksmith Institute declared the Doe Run Peru
complex one of the world's most polluted places. Just south of
St. Louis, Missouri, my home, is a lead smelter operation owned
by the Doe Run Corporation and its parent company, Renco Group,
which has also had its share of environmental and public health
problems. And for years, families and children living in the
area of the Doe Run facility were exposed to high levels of
lead. And according to the EPA, it is one of the most dangerous
neurotoxins in the environment. In 2010, the company reached an
agreement with the EPA to pay $65 million for a violation of
environmental laws, as well as a $7 million civil penalty.
By the end of 2013, Doe Run is supposed to be closing down
the old plant there. They had originally announced plans to
build a new facility. But as recently as June 30, in an article
in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, they announced that they won't
be building a new plant.
So this has been kind of a moving target in our part of the
country. But we also see the implications what is going on in
We also understand there is an economic argument involved
here. Doe Run Peru's smelting operations provided important
jobs to many Peruvians, with the mining industry counting for
over 60 percent of Peru's export earnings. We must look for
ways, I think, as a government to bring all the parties
together to comply, to comply with commitments under the
program for environmental mediation and to reach solutions that
allow for economic development and jobs but do so with a top
priority of protecting public health.
So thank you, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member for holding
this hearing. We look forward to hearing from our witnesses
Mr. Smith. Mr. Carnahan, thank you so very much, and for
being here with us today.
I would like to now welcome to the witness table our four
very distinguished witnesses, beginning first with Archbishop
Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno, who is from the Archdiocese of
Huancayo, Peru. He is also the vice president of the Peruvian
Episcopal Conference and president of the Justice and
Solidarity Department of the Latin American and Caribbean
Regional Bishops Council. In 2005, Archbishop Barreto was named
the general coordinator of a multi-stakeholder effort to
address contamination in the community of La Oroya and has been
recognized for his work on this situation.
Archbishop Barreto has recently received death threats for
his continued efforts to address urgent health and
And I, again, on behalf of this subcommittee, thank him for
his courage and for his willingness to speak out so bravely
throughout, including at today's hearing.
We will then hear from Dr. Fernando Serrano, who is the
principal investigator of the St. Louis University CDC study to
determine levels of toxic metals in La Oroya population and in
the environmental assessment of soil, water, and air quality
and the Mantaro watershed. Dr. Serrano's studies have provided
evidence of the extensive environmental contamination related
to the Doe Run smelter in Peru, and its effects on the health
of the people, especially children. He is also an assistant
professor of the department of environmental and occupational
health at St. Louis University.
If you two could please come to the witness table. Then we
will hear from Ms. Rosa Amaro, who is the president of the
Movement for the Health of La Oroya, a social organization
founded with the goal of advocating at the national and
international level around the severe health damage caused by
the activities of the La Oroya metallurgical complex, a multi-
Rosa's family lives in the neighborhood most affected by
the pollution. She is the mother of two sons, the youngest of
which suffers from severe hearing problems that have led them
to seek specialized care in Lima.
And finally, we will hear from Keith Slack, who is the
extractive industries global program manager in the DC office
of Oxfam America, where he coordinates the organization's
extractive industries reform program, which promotes greater
respect by corporations, international financial institutions,
and governments for the basic rights of communities in
developing countries mal-affected by oil and mining operations.
He has previously worked on the ground in Peru for Catholic
Relief Services. He has published multiple articles and has
written chapters in volumes on extractive industries and
STATEMENT OF HIS EXCELLENCY PEDRO BARRETO, ARCHDIOCESE OF
Archbishop Barreto. [The following testimony was delivered
through an interpreter.]
Good afternoon to all of you. I am Archbishop Pedro Ricardo
Barreto Jimeno, and I have been the archbishop of the
Archdiocese of Huancayo in the center of the Andean area of
Peru since 2004. That is where the City of La Oroya is located.
It is one of the most polluted cities in the world.
I am grateful to Congressman Christopher Smith, the chair
of the subcommittee, and to Congresswoman Karen Bass, the
ranking member, for this opportunity to be a witness before
you, witness to the joys and the sorrows and the hopes of the
population of La Oroya.
I also want to thank the 18 Congressmen and Congresswomen
who sent a letter to Ms. Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of
State on March 29, at the initiative of Congressman Raul
The letter reveals a great truth. And it says, We are
writing to express our serious concern with the behavior of
this U.S. company, Renco Group, and its subsidiary, Doe Run
Peru, which has negatively affected the image of the United
States in Peru and in Latin America.
I am a witness to the fact that these statements are
unfortunately true. I have seen people cry because of their
children and grandchildren, who are suffering serious
consequences and environmental contamination.
And that is why we are very happy that today we have both
Democratic and Republican Representatives here together to
defend the life and the health of the population of La Oroya.
This is an encouraging sign and example for Peru and the world.
I am not a political leader, and I am not an expert on the
economy. I am a bishop, a pastor, who in faithfulness to Jesus
Christ, our good shepherd, has decided to try to plow fields to
sew the seed of life, of justice, and of peace.
La Oroya is inside the territory of my archdiocese, whose
population has suffered since 1922 from the serious effects of
the toxic emissions coming from the polymetallic smelter since
1922 until June 2009.
It was on that date, in June 2009, that Doe Run declared
itself to be bankrupt. But the truth is different. The Doe Run
Corporation has not complied with its commitments to complete
in 10 years, over the course of 10 years, the environmental
mitigation projects it had promised to complete.
The government, under pressure from Doe Run and its
workers, decided to give the company an extension of 30 more
months to be able to comply with its environmental mitigation
program. We also know that here in the United States an
affiliate of this company has received severe economic
sanctions because of the effects it has caused on the life and
health of girls and boys, and because of environmental
noncompliance with environmental laws in the City of
In fact, the National Mining Society of Peru in 2010
decided to expel the organization of Doe Run from the society
for poor corporate practices. And recently, the president of a
Peruvian enterprise organization, called Confia, has stated
that companies like Doe Run should not be in Peru.
The smelter in La Oroya has emitted toxic gases on the
surrounding population from 1922 until 2009. So we are talking
about a period of 87 years. Of those years, during 65 years,
the facility was run by two North American companies. One was
Cerro de Pasco Copper Corporation, which no longer exists, and
the other is Doe Run Peru. Both of these companies leased the
property of the metallurgical complex in La Oroya, and they are
responsible for generating three-quarters of the environmental
liabilities that are existing today.
I should say that in La Oroya and in Peru we are going
through difficult times. And that is because of the historic
way in which mining activities have been carried out without
any kind of socioenvironmental responsibility. And this has
generated mistrust. The poor population does not trust the
companies or the central government itself.
That is why decisions like the ones that you may make here,
Congressmen and women, are important and effective for helping
to keep people from continuing to be affected by this kind of
contamination and to prevent the deterioration of the image of
the Government and the people of the United States.
Your actions and determination here has received a great
deal of attention in the Peruvian press. And this has helped
the Peruvian Congress and Government to comply more faithfully
with chapter 18 of the free trade agreement between the United
States and Peru, which is currently in effect.
I want to end my testimony by making an explicit reference
to something that Jesus Christ, our good shepherd, said. And he
strengthened us by saying two things, that if we are faithful
to his word, he says, you shall know the truth, and the truth
shall set you free.
We will know the scientific truth that Dr. Serrano will
tell us, Dr. Serrano from the University of St. Louis of
Missouri, and we will also hear the truth of the human
suffering of the people of La Oroya from the experiences of Ms.
We will also hear and learn about the ethical and moral
truth that we are trying to give testimony to today. Because of
our faith in Jesus Christ, believers cannot be silent in the
face of evil.
That is why our position is firm, it is clear, and it is
nonnegotiable. For Doe Run or any other company to operate the
smelter and the metallurgical complex at La Oroya, this should
only happen after the environmental mitigation projects have
been completely finished. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Archbishop Barreto follows:]
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Mr. Smith. Archbishop, thank you very much for your
I would like to now ask Ms. Amaro if she would proceed.
STATEMENT OF MS. ROSA AMARO, PRESIDENT, MOVEMENT FOR THE HEALTH
OF LA OROYA
Ms. Amaro. [The following testimony was delivered through
Thank you, Chairman Smith and Members of Congress for the
opportunity to give my testimony here today.
My name is Rosa Amaro Toykin. I am the president of the
Movement for Health in La Oroya, called by its acronym MOSAO.
I have lived in La Oroya since I was born. The same is true
of my parents and my family. MOSAO is a group of residents of
La Oroya who are concerned about the health of women, children,
and the elderly in the city.
I am not here as a political leader or as a technical
expert. I am here as a citizen of La Oroya and as a concerned
mother of two children, Moises and Jesus.
I founded MOSAO to help find a solution for the citizens of
La Oroya so that we can live in a healthy environment that is
free of toxic gases and smoke.
In 1999, the Ministry of Health of Peru did a study to see
what the level of contamination was among the children of La
Oroya. The results were terrifying. My 5-year-old boy Jesus had
a level of 58.3 micrograms of lead for each deciliter of blood.
This is higher than what is considered to be the maximum limit
by the World Health Organization.
As you know, lead attacks the brain and the central nervous
system. Children who survive intoxication, lead intoxication,
in general suffer from a series of negative effects, including
dyslexia. These effects are permanent, but unfortunately health
care is very scarce in La Oroya.
The toxic emissions that are poisoning the children of La
Oroya come from the lead smelter that is operated by Doe Run. I
believe that Doe Run is a bad example of foreign investment in
The government has already given Doe Run several
opportunities to resolve the contamination problems at the
metallurgical complex. But the company has never complied with
these commitments, and now it has the nerve to sue the state.
Doe Run has also caused many conflicts inside La Oroya,
conflicts among family members and between neighbors. Some
workers that support Doe Run are used by the company to
demonstrate against MOSAO and against the Peruvian Government.
For example, the company has its own radio stations that it
uses to defame and to insult people like myself and like
Archbishop Barreto, who are only trying to help the people.
Those who support Doe Run company have thrown rocks at my
house, and they have threatened my life. When they see us in
the streets, they shout, ``Death to MOSAO.'' We don't have any
protection against these threats.
As a precautionary measure, I hide inside my house, and I
don't go out much into the streets because I am afraid of being
attacked by workers and their family members.
Currently, the level of pollution has gone down quite a bit
because the Doe Run plant has been closed. And it is the first
time that my city has had clean air and a clear sky.
As a citizen, I want my neighbors to live with this clean
air, and I want any operator of this complex to respect the
highest environmental standards that protect the health of the
I am asking you today to help us so that Doe Run will
comply with the highest standards of air, soil, and water
quality, the kinds of standards that are used in the United
States, so that our children can live healthy lives like
children in the United States. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Amaro follows:]
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Mr. Smith. Ms. Amaro, thank you so very much for your
testimony, and at great risk to yourself for being here. I am
very sorry to hear of all of the threats that have been made
STATEMENT OF FERNANDO SERRANO, PH.D., ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF
ENVIRONMENTAL AND OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH, SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH,
ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY
Mr. Serrano. Good afternoon. I would like to thank
Honorable Chris Smith, chair, and the other members of the
committee. Thank you so much for inviting me this afternoon.
I am Fernando Serrano, assistant professor at the School of
Public Health, St. Louis University, and I have served as the
principal investigator of several studies to determine the
levels of toxic metals in the people and in the environment in
La Oroya and the Mantaro region.
This afternoon, I am going to show the key findings of
these studies with you. The study we conducted in 2005
indicated that 97 percent of children between 6 months and 6
years of age have elevated levels of lead in their bodies, and
98 percent of children between 7 and 12. What that means is
practically the entire population in this age group in La Oroya
had elevated levels, as was indicated, three to six times what
we would consider acceptable in the United States. The same
happened with other age groups.
We found cadmium six times the U.S. average; the same for
arsenic in La Oroya. We found in another city far away from La
Oroya, we found lead in the blood of children, which indicates
that the contamination has traveled from La Oroya to the entire
And of concern to us is the issue of multiple exposure.
These people are suffering not from one but from all of these
contaminants affecting their bodies.
All this contamination is particularly associated to the
Doe Run Peru smelter in La Oroya. So because people were
concerned about what they had in their bodies and the high
levels of toxic metals, they also wanted to know what is
happening in the environment. So we conducted a comprehensive
environmental assessment of air, water, and soil in the region.
And this is what we found. In soil, we had 70 sampling sites.
In each one of them, we found elevated levels of lead and
arsenic in the entire region. The highest levels were found in
La Oroya, extremely high.
Peru does not have regulations for soil, so we used our own
in the United States and Canada. And they exceeded many, many
times the levels of what we would consider acceptable in soil.
Regarding water, of the 45 sampling sites in the entire
area, only eight are clean any more. Only eight rivers are
clean. The rest have contamination. The worst areas were of
course around La Oroya, where we found higher levels of lead
and arsenic. This is of concern because this water is used for
irrigation, and the farmers are concerned that lead will be
absorbed by crops used by animals and people.
Lastly, in regarding air quality, we tested air in various
areas of the region and the City of La Oroya. We found many
days where the peak sulfur dioxide reached emergency levels in
the city. So the air was extremely contaminated, not only by
sulfur dioxide, but also by cadmium, arsenic, and lead.
It is important to note that after the plant closed its
operations in 2009 in July, we have seen that SO2,
sulfur dioxide, has decreased 99 percent. Lead has decreased by
98 percent. Arsenic has come down by 99 percent, and cadmium by
99 percent. The first time in decades that the people of La
Oroya are breathing clean air.
Also, some blood level screening has been conducted in the
last 5 years. And what we see now, after the closing of the
plant, that blood lead levels in children have come down
significantly. So, again, for the first time we have seen
children with blood levels decreasing.
So what does this mean? First, that we have sound
scientific evidence of the grave threat to the people of La
Oroya and the environment, as the studies have shown. Of great
concern, again, is the multiple exposure, all these toxic
metals affecting the body and the health effects. So in the
discussion of the economic and legal and other factors related
to the relationship between the United States Government and
Peru in the framework of the United States free trade
agreement, I believe we must put an emphasis, we must make a
priority of the health needs and rights of the people of La
Oroya, especially the children, and especially the unborn. We
have children being born with lead in their bodies. And that is
something that we consider completely unacceptable.
So the gains in clean air and decreasing blood levels
should be protected. If that company, whoever reopens the
smelter in La Oroya, reopens it without strict environmental
regulations, the entire community will be recontaminated. And
this would pose again a great, great threat to people who are
already suffering for decades.
Lastly, in the public health field, which is our field, we
don't lose sight of the definition of health, which is this:
Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well
being, and not just the absence of disease. La Oroya people,
the population, does not have this health. It is their
aspiration. So this testimony I hope sheds light on this big
gap between this aspiration of health and the reality of
suffering, vulnerability, and risk faced by the people of La
Oroya, 35,000 of them.
In closing, for St. Louis University, a Jesuit university
committed to making sure that research and education serve
those who most need it, this has been an opportunity for us to
serve the people of La Oroya, and their organizations, and the
church that speaks on their behalf. We will continue speaking
truth to power and providing the scientific evidence until the
people of La Oroya have good health and a clean environment.
Thank you. I have submitted a written statement with more
additional information on these studies, and I would be happy
to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Serrano follows:]
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Dr. Serrano.
Without objection, your full statement, and that of all of
our witnesses, and any other materials you would like to submit
for the record will be made a part of the record.
STATEMENT OF MR. KEITH SLACK, GLOBAL PROGRAM MANAGER, OXFAM
Mr. Slack. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member for
holding this very important hearing today.
The Doe Run lead smelter that we have been hearing about in
La Oroya, Peru, is at a critical juncture. The Peruvian
Government next week in fact will make a decision about whether
or not to allow Doe Run to continue operating the smelter. So
your oversight of this issue is needed now more than ever.
My organization, Oxfam America, is an international relief
and development organization that creates lasting solutions to
poverty, hunger, and injustice in more than 90 countries. We
have worked in Peru for more than 30 years. In that time, Peru
has made great strides in reducing poverty, yet nearly one-
third of the population still lives in poverty. In rural areas,
that poverty rate is nearly 60 percent.
This poverty sits in sharp contrast to the great mineral
wealth that the country possesses. Much of this wealth,
unfortunately, has not trickled down to the poorest areas of
the country. Local communities are also concerned about the
environmental impacts of large scale mining and oil and gas
These impacts can be seen most clearly in La Oroya, as we
have heard from Bishop Barreto, Ms. Amaro, and Dr. Serrano. In
that town, an American company, Doe Run, for more than a decade
has been contributing to serious environmental contamination,
despite having the resources and the technology to operate in a
more responsible way.
Rising concerns about environmental contamination in La
Oroya and elsewhere in Peru have contributed to a cycle of
conflict and human rights violations around extractive
industries projects throughout the country. Most prominently,
the Mina Conga project, which is a $4.8 billion investment by
the Denver-based Newmont Mining Corporation, has been the site
of repeated conflict and violence. Just 2 weeks ago, five
protesters against the project were shot and killed by Peruvian
national police during a protest there. In a related incident,
Marco Arana, a Catholic priest and mining activist, was
detained and savagely beaten by police, an incident that was
captured on video and broadcast on YouTube.
In all, Peru's national human rights ombudsman counts 245
conflicts across the country, most of these related to oil and
mining projects. Such a high level of social conflict threatens
the viability of Peru's natural resource sector and threatens
to undermine the Government of President Ollanta Humala.
In order to address this critical situation, and ensure
respect for human rights and the environment and Peru's
continued stability, Oxfam America makes the following
recommendations for the committee's consideration. First, human
rights training for police, military, and private security
forces that provide security to oil and mining installations in
the country needs to be dramatically increased. To address the
situation, Peru's endorsement of the Voluntary Principles on
Security and Human Rights, which is a United States and United
Kingdom-led global initiative that sets human rights standards
for the oil and mining sectors, would be a critical step. The
Obama administration and Congress should urge Peru to endorse
and fully implement the voluntary principles without delay.
Secondly, Peru's environmental oversight could be
substantially strengthened. The U.S. Government should offer
the support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Peru
in helping to address critical environmental and public health
concerns like those that we see in La Oroya. The U.S. EPA has
extensive experience in dealing with lead contamination issues,
including those caused by Doe Run's lead smelter in
Herculaneum, Missouri, and this expertise should be offered to
the Peruvian Government.
Thirdly, Doe Run's parent company, Renco Group, is seeking
$800 million in damages against the Government of Peru under
the United States-Peru free trade agreement. This suit is an
attempt to increase pressure on the government in its ongoing
negotiations with Doe Run, Peru, over the fate of the lead
smelter in La Oroya. The U.S. Government should support the
Peruvian Government in defending itself against this claim.
Finally, the U.S. Government should encourage all American
companies operating in Peru and elsewhere in the region to
ensure that they are following the highest possible human
rights and environmental standards, even in those cases where
they are legally allowed to do less than if they were operating
in the United States. American corporations serve as important
ambassadors of the United States. It is thus in the United
States' interest to ensure that they comport with American
values and standards for environmental protection and human
The U.S. Congress can play an important role in supporting
Peru's efforts to address these issues and solve urgent
problems like those we have heard about in La Oroya.
I thank the chairman and the members of the committee again
for their attention to this critical issue, and I would be
happy to answer any questions you might have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Slack follows:]
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Mr. Smith. Mr. Slack, thank you very much for your
testimony as well.
Let me begin with Archbishop Barreto and also to Ms. Amaro.
Not only are you trying to defend people from the horrific
impacts of chemical poisoning, but your very lives have been
threatened and others as well. In reading your testimonies,
especially you, Ms. Amaro, you indicate that the police have
been far less protective. They want names. When somebody is
saying something on a radio station, you might not have a name.
It is up to them to initiate investigations. That is what
So I would like to know if you could speak to, first and
foremost, the two issues of safety: Pollution and violence.
Because you are fighting against pollution, you now have the
threat of violence directed against you. Have the police, has
the central government, has any government body shown a
willingness to very aggressively protect those who are under
threats, like yourselves? What do they do when you come
forward, Archbishop? Do they just say, ``Thank you very much,''
and that is the end of it?
Ms. Amaro. When we go to government offices to denounce the
kinds of threats we are experiencing, often these threats come
over the radio and the representatives in the government office
will say, well, we need proof. Tell us the names and the
addresses of the people that are threatening you. And this is
something we aren't able to do, because it is never possible to
know exactly who is behind these threats, who are the people
that are making the telephone calls.
The workers who work in these radio stations are practicing
a kind of what we call a white terrorism. They are trying to
scare people. And what they are doing is agitating the workers
and the family members of the workers in the plants, scaring
them, telling them we are their enemies. And in fact their
children are also contaminated by what is happening in the
environment, but they are afraid to come forward. But Dr.
Serrano and Monsignor Barreto have known cases of workers'
families' children who are also affected by this, but sometimes
they don't even want to come forward and find out what the
results of the tests are on their children.
Sometimes they will have a march in favor of the company,
and they will march with a coffin, and they will say death to
Pedro Barreto, Monsignor Barreto, for example, death to MOSAO,
Our organization has never been against the workers or even
against the company. We are not their enemies. We want the
company to be able to continue functions in La Oroya, but we
think it has to function under certain conditions, and we think
that we should have complete freedom to be able to talk about
what is happening there.
When the police come, they come most of all to protect the
site of the metallurgical complex, but often what they do is to
attack the members of the population.
Mr. Smith. Thank you.
Archbishop Barreto. I would like to add to what Mrs. Rosa
just said. The people who are defending the health of the
people of La Oroya in La Oroya, they are heroes; and that is
why I really want to recognize the courage of Mrs. Rosa and of
her entire group that defends life there.
I really am grateful for the question that Chairman Chris
Smith has asked, because it gives me the opportunity to say
that it seems that the groups that are coming in to look for
profit are only interested in making more money. They are not
interested at all in the lives of the people there.
The church social doctrine does the best to try to follow
church social teachings and other people of goodwill. We try to
put the life and the dignity of human beings and the health of
human beings at the center of decisions that are made and not
the opposite. It is not the economy that we need to be looking
out for. It is the human beings that we need to be looking out
It is important to know the truth in these situations, and
here the scientific truth coincides completely with moral and
ethical truth. It is true that I have also had threats to my
own person since 2005. I saw, for example, a clip on YouTube
where there was a coffin inside the installations, the
facilities of the plant. The coffin had my last name on it, and
it had a church symbol that indicated death.
The national police force itself has actually had two of
its members killed in La Oroya. They were victims of the
population and of the pressure that the Doe Run Corporation was
putting on the population.
And recently the national police were actually at fault in
the place of Cajamarca in the Conga mines. All of us are very
outraged at their brutal response to the demonstrations there.
It is a serious error that they have made that will lead to
Going back to my own situation, thanks once again for your
concern, Chairman Smith. It is true that there have been a
number of threats on my life since 2005, and these threats are
very difficult to prove. Some of these threats have come
through the public, have been made through public phone booths.
There was even a Facebook threat saying that my days were
numbered. But rather than discouraging me or making me too
afraid, this is actually giving me more strength. We feel like
we are on the right path because we are defending the life and
the health of the population.
Mr. Smith. Thank you very much, Archbishop.
Let me ask you, Mr. Serrano and Mr. Slack, the remediation
option, the cleanup option that the government as well as the
company has to follow, or should follow, it is my understanding
that the soil could be contaminated to up to three feet and
maybe more, so that would require incineration, I take it. How
much of an effort at what cost do you think that would actually
entail, and is it in your opinion a viable option? Is that the
best course to take?
Mr. Serrano. As I indicated, we found toxic metals in the
soil; and, for us, the top surface is what is of concern.
Because that is what gets in contact with children, with
people, and with animals. So the first level of remediation is
actually the very top level, the first 5, 10 inches. And, of
course, more in-depth remediation takes place, as you
indicated, going lower.
To my knowledge, no remediation has taken place in La
Oroya, and this is serious. Because, although we have seen
contamination in the Earth going down, we know that the legacy
of lead in the soil and the dust is still there since 1922.
Mr. Smith. Whose responsibility is that? Is that the
government's or is that the company's?
Mr. Serrano. It is both. It is both. So when, as you
indicated, when the plant started to operate in 1922, it
started to emit all these contaminants, and they accumulate in
the environment on the soil. In '74, it went back to the
government, and then it was back to the private sector. So,
yes, the Government of Peru is responsible for some of it, but
so is the first American company who operated that and now,
since 1977, Doe Run Peru.
From our perspective, whoever is responsible, they need to
take full responsibility for remediation. Otherwise, that will
forever be a source of contamination to these people.
Mr. Smith. My friend and colleague, Ms. Bass, does have to
leave, so I would like to yield to her. I have additional
questions. I will yield to her.
Ms. Bass. Thank you so much. I appreciate it, and I am
sorry I will not be able to stay. Both my colleague, Mr.
Carnahan, and I have to leave for other commitments.
But I wanted to, first and foremost, thank you so much for
taking the time to come. Your testimony, your courage, I am
very clear about that and understand what the danger is that
you face. And as I said in the beginning, I think that it is
particularly egregious that you are having to face this
situation, something that we would never tolerate here.
But I just have a couple of questions, because, you know,
we talked with the free trade agreement and the fact that the
company could even use a provision of the free trade agreement
to sue the government. And I wanted to know, since the company
has been there so long, has the situation gotten worse after
the trade agreement? And then is there any consideration,
frankly, about the Government of Peru suing the company or, you
know, your organization suing the company? There are certainly
many international examples of that.
The plant has closed and so all this issue of the
harassment and threats and all are from workers who want the
plant to reopen again, and is it true that they are still being
paid, even though that the plant is closed?
Archbishop Barreto. Yes, the liquidation company that is
now in charge of the Doe Run operations has been paying the
workers 70 percent of their salary since June 2009. They also
get a little extra pay for the patron saint celebration time
and around Christmastime. And, as I said before, on July 26th,
the Creditors Board will be deciding whether it is going to
accept the third and last proposal that Doe Run Peru is making
to restructure itself and continue to operate the smelter.
Ms. Bass. Has there been any consideration to suing the
Ms. Amaro. We have a judicial process right now where we
are directing it toward the Peruvian Government asking for
programs to benefit the population of La Oroya. That is where
we have been focusing on so far. The Constitutional Court has
ordered the Ministry of Health to give special attention to
some of the most vulnerable people in our community: The
children, pregnant women, elderly, and the entire community.
Doe Run itself has also signed some agreements with the
regional government where they are supposed to do some lead
testing, and they also have a center where basically what they
are doing is taking the kids out of the most contaminated areas
in the in morning, having the daycare about eight kilometers
away, and returning them back to the contaminated areas at
Archbishop Barreto. I should also say that some U.S.
lawyers have sued Doe Run Peru under U.S. laws, specifically
for the cases of 107 children in La Oroya, and the case was
moving along. But I understand it has stopped now because of
Doe Run's suit against the Government of Peru. So it is sort of
in suspension right now.
Ms. Bass. Let me just close out by once again thanking the
chair of the committee, and thank you especially letting me ask
my questions before I leave. My staff member who is sitting
behind me will be here and will follow up.
Because I do want to specifically ask--and I am sure the
chairman is going to raise this--is there anything specifically
that we can do to aid the situation, especially given that
deadline, the July 26th situation?
So I again thank you for all of your testimony.
Mr. Smith. Thank you.
Who would like to answer?
Mr. Slack. Thank you, Chairman and Ranking Member Bass.
Just to add one additional point to what the Bishop was
saying, the Renco Group is in fact using the United States-Peru
FTA to protect itself from liability against the lawsuit that
has been filed in the Missouri courts. So that is to make that
connection there that the ranking member was asking about in
terms of the free trade agreement.
I think one of the most difficult things to understand
about this is situation is, given the resources that are
available to Renco Group as a broad corporate entity, why they
haven't taken the steps that are needed to address the problems
at La Oroya, which consist primarily and most importantly of
installing a sulfuric acid treatment plant to reduce the amount
of toxic emissions that are produced in La Oroya. This is the
issue that people are most concerned about in terms of whether
it is Doe Run or whether it is a company that ends up operating
the smelter: Will there be a commitment to actually install
that technology before the smelter begins operating again?
And this gets to the other question that you had raised,
Mr. Chairman, about the soil. The concern about the remediation
of the soil is if the emissions aren't controlled first, then
you would have to go back, right back, and clean up the soil
again, because they would become immediately contaminated. So,
in a sense, it wouldn't make sense to clean the soils first if
you don't have the control over the toxic emissions, because
you will just end up with the contaminated soil again.
In reference to Congressman Carnahan's experience with Doe
Run in Herculaneum, Missouri, in that situation the company has
demonstrated that it does in fact have technology that can be
used that would reduce emissions almost to zero. So the
question is, why aren't they considering that technology in La
Oroya? Again, it would seem that, within the greater resources
of the Renco Group, there would be the capacity to do that.
Mr. Smith. One of the most important elements of our
Superfund law is that before the government fund does cleanup,
the principally responsible party is identified, and they are
made to bear the cost of cleanup. Does such a mechanism exist
in Peru? Is it being contemplated by the government? But,
currently, does it exist?
Archbishop Barreto. Definitely not. Because, as I said in
my testimony, during the 87 years that the complex has been
polluting La Oroya, during 65 of those years it has been two
North American companies that have been responsible for the
environmental liabilities and contamination. The State of Peru
through Centromin Peru was also in charge of the smelter for 23
years. So if we use this mathematical calculation you might say
that the two American companies should perhaps pay for three-
quarters of the cleanup. Unfortunately, Cerro de Pasco
Corporation, which operated the complex for 52 years, is no
longer in existence.
And Doe Run has often said, well, it is the government that
hasn't complied with the environmental commitments or the
environmental mitigation activities necessary. But, again, the
question is, how can the government do anything while toxic
gasses are continuing to be emitted by the Doe Run company?
That is why we say that any new operator of the complex,
whether that is Doe Run or any other company that wants to run
the metallurgical complex in La Oroya, should only do so after
complying with the environmental mitigation commitments.
Mr. Smith. I would like to ask you, what does delay in
cleanup of contaminated soils mean in terms of risk? We talk
about some of this being three feet down and leeching, I
suppose, the issue of runoff. How long can this stay unfocused
upon and unacted upon and not lead to further risks in terms of
runoff and leeching?
Maybe, Dr. Serrano, that might be one for you.
Mr. Serrano. Yes, Mr. Chairman.
As I said, I am not aware of any remediation program that
has taken place in La Oroya, although we have called for that.
We believe that that will eliminate a source of contamination.
So it has not taken place. And because of the reasons you have
heard between the discussion of who is responsible, it was
indicated it is clear who is responsible, and the polluter is
So we know we have the methods and techniques to do
remediation. That is well known. We have done it in the U.S. in
Superfund sites. We have done it in cities. It can be done in
La Oroya. It can be done in that region.
But we do need the commitment of the polluters, in this
case Doe Run Peru and the government, to come up not only with
the program but with the money to fund it. They need to fund,
they need to remediate, and they need to solve this problem of
soil contamination. They haven't done so yet.
Mr. Smith. We received a letter from Mr. Dennis Sadlowski,
who is the Vice President-Law for Renco, and he asks a question
in his letter that ``we believe it is in the interests of both
the United States and Peru to ensure agreements made are
agreements that are kept, and we hope the subcommittee will
direct our State Department to communicate this to the current
As I said earlier, we had invited the State Department,
USAID, and other responsible people within the Obama
administration to come here and give testimony. For whatever
reason, they have declined to do so.
But what do you make of that question? Has the U.S.
Government done that to the Peruvians?
Maybe, Mr. Slack, you might be aware of that?
Mr. Slack. I think the key issue at stake here is the
extent to which the company is genuinely committed to taking
the actions that are necessary to address the environmental
problems at La Oroya. And, in our view, it seems to be largely
a distraction, a waste of time and money to engage in these
legal proceedings when those resources could be invested toward
addressing these problems.
So Doe Run has not committed to installing the emission
control technology that is needed there. So, instead of
pursuing these legal strategies, why doesn't it simply commit
to doing that? Working with the Peruvian Government and with
the support of the United States Government, I think that would
be beneficial, to find a solution to address this problem and
not pursue these issues through those legal means.
Mr. Smith. Is there a question that any of you would have
for the U.S. administration, over which obviously as an
American, as a lawmaker in the U.S. Congress, are we doing our
One of my concerns with each of the free trade agreements,
going back to NAFTA with Mexico, which I did vote against
primarily because of workers' rights and because of
environmental protections, is that while on paper it looked to
be very strong and robust, but were anything but in terms of
implementation. And I am wondering with regard to the United
States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement that went into effect in
December 2007, is there a similar weakness with regards to
environmental standards? It may look good on paper, but are
they truly enforced by the Government of Peru and are we doing
our part as a Government to push in that important area?
Archbishop Barreto. The first thing the U.S. Government can
do is to not support the Doe Run Corporation.
Secondly, the Mining Society of Peru has already thrown Doe
Run out of its organization for its poor environmental
practices, and the president of the Corporations Association
has said clearly that companies like Doe Run should not be in
the country. So, for me, it is very clear that if the United
States Government supports a U.S. company that is known for
noncompliance with environmental laws that it really is going
to be colluding in this irresponsibility.
I also have to say, unfortunately, as a Peruvian that our
Peruvian Governments over the years have closed their eyes to
this serious problem and have not passed laws to protect the
lives of our population. But the past Peruvian Governments and
the current government have indeed tried to take more firm
measures. When the company has applied for extensions, it has
denied extensions to this company, which has sought to profit--
and I have to say it clearly--to profit on the lives and health
of our population.
I think the United States has to be very firm as well, that
never again should we allow complexes like this to get up and
running again without first doing the cleanup and environmental
I think that in the defense of life and human rights, both
the U.S. and the Peruvian Governments should get together and
have serious dialogues about how to get out of this situation,
out of this trap. I think La Oroya is an emblematic case of
both governmental and corporate irresponsibility.
Mr. Smith. Thank you.
On that point, Mr. Slack, you mentioned that the U.S.
Government should offer the support of the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency to Peru in helping to address critical
environmental and public health concerns like those we have
seen in La Oroya. Has it?
Mr. Slack. In conversations that we have had with the EPA,
they have indicated their interest in trying to be supportive
in this situation, and that is subject to requests from the
Peruvian Government to make that happen. So I think an
expression of interest----
Mr. Smith. We are never shy in--honestly, because I have
been in Congress 32 years, we are never shy in admonishing,
requesting, encouraging a government to do something
proactively. We don't wait for an invitation.
Mr. Slack. And I think that would be extremely helpful. If
this were to rise up in the priority level of U.S. policy
versus Peru, a resolution of this situation, I think that would
have a tremendous impact on that.
Mr. Smith. We will follow up on that. That is a great idea.
Are there any final comments that any of the distinguished
witnesses would like to make?
Archbishop Barreto. I just want to close by giving our
special thanks to you, Chairman Chris Smith, for the kindness
and the determination that you have shown in inviting us to be
here to be witnesses on behalf of the life and the health of
the people of our country. Thank you for being concerned about
the threats that we are facing and for accompanying the hopes
of the Peruvian people.
Mr. Smith. Thank you.
Ms. Amaro. Thank you.
Yes, I would like to ask the congressmen and women of the
United States to advocate for the children and for the pregnant
women of La Oroya, to pressure the Doe Run company, if it is
going to continue there, for it to build its sulfuric acid
plant. It had a deadline for finishing this plant in 2009. It
received an extension. It asked for another extension without
having done anything.
I think if the U.S. Government can demand of owners like
the Renco Group and the Doe Run company that, in addition to
thinking about the money that they are going to produce in
their operations, that they also think about the lives and the
health of the people in the area.
Mr. Smith. Okay. I want to thank you for your tremendous
testimony, your answers to questions that were very, very
informative and incisive.
I do want to say that, Archbishop Barreto, when I first met
you I was struck by the balance that you brought to this issue.
You emphasize that you want the people of Peru and the people
in this area to have jobs but not at the expense of people's
health, well-being and whether or not their health is degraded
by these chemicals and these minerals and environmental
pollution. You emphasized that especially as it relates to
children and because they are so vulnerable at that critical
time, the impact that this has disproportionately to its impact
on unborn children, who often are hurt irreparably by this
As I think all of you know, especially the Americans, we
have had a multi-decade-long fight for environmental
protection. Every bill, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act,
Superfund, everything was rife with contention. But at the end
of the day, if we are not protecting our people from
environmental hazards, we have failed utterly. So I again
salute you for being beacons of hope and clarity on behalf of
the people who are put at risk.
So, again, I want to thank you. We will follow up. We will
ask--there are a number of takeaways for this subcommittee from
this hearing in terms of requests to the administration. We
will be in contact with the Government of Peru and all parties,
we have already heard from Renco, to do our part. Because,
again, if these free trade agreements are to have any validity,
they cannot be engraved invitations for anyone anywhere in the
world to pollute and to, again, put people's lives at risk.
So I thank you, and we will follow up. This has been a
very, very informative and disturbing hearing.
The hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 3:42 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
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