Peru’s El Comercio is reporting that a reservoir holding chemical left-overs from a mining operation collapsed, contaminating the Opamayo River, killing a bunch of fish, and polluting god knows what else.
According to MineralMundi, the Caudalosa Chica mine is used for extracting silver, copper, lead, and Zinc. Government sources are estimating that 21,400 cubic meters of toxic material escaped the reservoir, though the article doesn’t specify what kind of toxic material is involved.
When an open-pit goldmine in Costa Rica was shut down in 2007 on fears that something similar was about to happen, the chemical causing concern was cyanide. Not sure if that’s the case here.
Supposedly the Caudalosa Chica mine has polluted things before.
It would be easy to jump all over whatever mining company is at fault, but let’s be honest, mining companies and any other profit-motivated corporations will go as far as you let them. We know this for a fact. It’s what they’re designed to do: pursue profit where they can get it.
At the heart of the matter, therefore, these environmental catastrophes are the government’s fault, for not requiring strict enough safety procedures, for not funding the institutions charged with enforcing those safety procedures, and for not having strong enough punitive measures in place to punish companies who dodge the rules and to make damn sure any clean-ups are well funded.
Post-disaster, the government usually attempts a neat responsibility dodge, a la Barack Obama’s declared desire to kick BP executive ass. But really, the asses that deserve kicking are seated in nice leather chairs located in a statehouse somewhere.