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UPDATE: Council and Blue Planet oppose El Mauro tailings dam in Chile

El Mauro tailings dam, near Caimanes. Credit: Colectivo audiovisual de registro de la memoria histórica de Caimanes

El Mauro tailings dam, near Caimanes. Credit: Colectivo audiovisual de registro de la memoria histórica de Caimanes

IPS has reported, “People in the small town of Caimanes in northern Chile will suffer severe health problems if water pollution produced by (the El Mauro) tailings dam built by the Los Pelambres mining company is not cleaned up, experts warn. …Seven kilometres long and 270 metres high, it is the largest toxic chemical dump in Latin America. …(It) is located eight kilometres upstream from the town of Caimanes. …Minera Los Pelambres, which has been operating (a copper mine in Valle del Choapa, 250 kilometres north of Santiago) for 10 years, belongs to the Luksic family, the wealthiest in the country and one of the richest in the world, according to Forbes magazine.”

The article continues, “The most important study on water pollution in Caimanes was carried out in November 2011 by Dr. Andrei Tchernitchin of the state University of Chile, who found high concentrations of toxic metals in several water courses. …Patricio Bustamante said the company’s copper mining operations have had a negative impact on the community and has caused enormous losses to the local heritage, as 140 archaeological sites have been dug up and 500 stones bearing 2,000 engravings have been moved from their original positions. …’These are crimes against the local cultural heritage and society which violate human rights, and the state is responsible for failing to guarantee access to clean drinking water for the people of Caimanes and for letting a company expose them to lethal danger,’ Bustamante told IPS.”

The Council of Canadians and Blue Planet Project have signed an open letter with other groups that states, “As associations organizing the Alternative World Water Forum, we wish to express our deepest concern. We wish to remind that ‘the right to safe drinking water and sanitation is a human right, essential to the full enjoyment of life and the enjoyment of all human rights’ recognized by UN on 28 July, 2010, and that States must ensure that their people are guaranteed access to safe water. Non-compliance constitutes a violation of human rights on the part of the state, which is an imprescriptible crime. …We (also) support the applications by France Libertés and MRAP (the French NGO Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples/ Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples) to the UN Human Rights Council, condemning violations of human rights taking place in Caimanes.”

The IPS article is at http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/06/mine-tailings-pollute-a-chilean-towns-water/.