LIMA, Peru (AP) More than 100 rural Peruvians have been sickened by the spill of a toxic copper concentrate produced at one of the Andean country's biggest mines, authorities said Friday.
The Ancash state regional health office said 140 people were treated for "irritative symptoms caused by the inhalation of toxins" after a pipeline carrying the concentrate under high pressure burst open in their community.
Most of the injured had joined in efforts to prevent liquid copper slurry from reaching a nearby river after the pipeline linking the Antamina copper mine to the coast ruptured last week in the village of Santa Rosa de Cajacay, said the community's president, Hilario Moran."Without taking into account the consequences, we pitched in to help," Moran told The Associated Press by phone. The people used absorbent fabric provided by the mine but were not given gloves or protective masks, said Antonio Mendoza, the mine's environmental director. Shortly afterward, people became ill, vomiting, suffering headaches and nose bleeds. "That's unethical and irresponsible and they should know better," Greg Moller, a professor of environmental chemistry and toxicology at the University of Idaho-Washington State University, said of the mining company's enlisting villagers in the cleanup without proper protective gear. Mendoza said the substance that spilled "was not necessarily toxic." "It's a dangerous substance to the extent that it's an industrial substance," he said. "They are dangerous substances that require a particular handling but aren't necessarily toxic." Moller disputed that characterization. "This was actually a toxic episode and these people are intoxicated," he said, adding that the alkaline copper concentrate likely damaged lung tissue, causing chemical burns. He said it was his understanding that the rupture released a mist of concentrate, which could have created a fine cloud of toxic airborne particles. "There are a lot of chemical and physical irritants in that mix," Moller said.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass + 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV