Boliden’s toxic waste in Arica – now on the Environmental Justice Atlas

The Chilean town Arica has since the 80’s been polluted by chemicals like lead, arsenic and mercury. This has led to death and sickness in the community.

Now the Environmental Justice Atlas has placed the town on its list of ecological conflicts around the world.

– I believe the Arica community will be greatly favored to assume a greater position of commitment to the community directly affected by pollution, says community leader Rodrigo Pino Vargas.

Environmental Justice Atlas, also referred to as EJ Atlas, is a website that documents and catalogues social conflict around environmental issues. They aim to make mobilization more visible, highlight claims and testimonies and to make a case for true corporate and state accountability for the injustices inflicted through their activities.

The EJ Atlas is directed by Leah Temper and Joan Martinez Alier, at a research institute in Barcelona called ICTA-UAB, and coordinated by Daniela Del Bene, at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.

They are supported by the ENVJUST project, and the ACKnowl-EJ (Academic-Activist Co-Production of Knowledge for Environmental Justice) funded by the Transformations to Sustainability Programme.

– The victims do not abandon their struggle and will continue until they get justice, says Rodrigo Vargas.

Between 1984 and 1989, 20,000 tons of mining waste were imported to Chile from the Rönnskar plant in Skellefteå, Sweden. The Swedish owners, mining giant Boliden, wanted to avoid the ban that would come with the Basel Convention.

A Chilean company, PROMEL was engaged to extract remaining minerals from the Swedish waste. PROMEL didn’t have the necessary technology required for such extractions, instead they chose to deposit the waste in the outskirts of Arica.

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