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Photographer's Note

kids play a game of futbol in the shadow of what makes them sick.


The city of La Oroya in the central highlands of Peru has attained a tittle, not a tittle that is wanted or respected but a tittle that comes with sickness and hardship. The city has earned a position on Blacksmith Institute's list as one of the top ten most polluted cities in the world, another included on the list is Chernobyl, Ukraine.

The smelter located in La Oroya refines copper, lead and cadmium which produce by-products that are released into the air and directly into the already poisoned Mantaro river. The Peruvian Health Ministry has found that 99.9% of children under the age of seven suffer from lead poisoning, the chronic long term effects of lead poisoning are known to include excessive tiredness, weakness, weight loss, insomnia, headache, nervous irritability, fine tremors, numbness, dizziness, anxiety, and hyperactivity. The children not only suffer from lead poisoning but also are found to have high levels of arsenic and cadmium which can contribute to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer among many others.

In 1997 American Billionaire Ira Rennert bought the Refinery from the Peruvian government. The agreement was that his group, Doe Run Peru would have had to finance and implement a series of improvements at the complex in order to comply with higher environmental regulatory standards. Almost thirteen years have passed and the plant is now shutdown leaving many local people unemployed or forced to travel hours for work. Ira Rennert attributes the lack of modernization due to financial difficulties even though the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission showed that the company sent $130 million in "commissions and consulting fees" back to Doe Run headquarters in St. Louis Missouri.

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Additional Photos by Adam Tymetz (freechechnya1) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 25 W: 0 N: 31] (222)
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