Arica Victims denied damages in the Swedish Court of Appeal

769 Chileans sued the Swedish mining company Boliden for the toxic waste that left outside the town Arica. The sludge was polluted with chemicals like arsenic, lead and mercury.

The Swedish Court of Appeal decided to apply Swedish law, whereby the plaintiffs’ claims were time barred.

The plaintiffs from Arica claim that they have been seriously affected by the toxic chemicals. They have all been tested with more than 30 micrograms of arsenic per liter urine.

The toxic waste originates from the Swedish town Skellefteå, and the Boliden plant Rönnskär. In the 1980’s Boliden exported 20.000 tons of waste sludge, containing high levels of arsenic, lead and mercury, to Chile. They payed the local mining company Promel 10 million crowns to extract arsenic and gold from the sludge.

However, Promel did not have the proper technology to extract such minerals. Instead they chose to deposit the waste outside the town Arica. With a little help from the wind, the waste was then able to contaminate a resident area nearby.

With the help of American, Chilean and Swedish lawyers, the people of Arica formed Arica Victims KB, an entity that later sued the Swedish company Boliden.

The Swedish District Court, using Chilean law, ruled in favor for Boliden. The decision said that the evidence was not sufficient though they established that Boliden should have understood that people were at risk for exposure and that they should have done something about it. Arica Victims then appealed to the Swedish Court of Appeal.

The court of appeal in Umeå decided to rule the case using Swedish law, in which the possible unlawful act was to be considered and if a case is older than ten years, it is time barred. 

Arica Victims lawyer says they are all very disappointed by the outcome since the court of appeal didn’t even need to decide upon the evidence was presented.

The lawyers are considering an appeal to the Swedish Supreme Court.