In a newspaper interview (Dagens Nyheter), the former minister of energy, Birgitta Dahl admits that she approved Boliden’s export of toxic waste to Arica. In the article she describes it as one of her career’s biggest mistakes. Since the Swedish government many times has described the shipments in the mid 80’s, as solely the responsibility of Boliden, we called her up to ask her more about her role in the affair.
How did the matter become your repsonibility in the first place?
– I was responsible for export of hazardous waste.
Were there many matters like this?
– No, this was very special.
Dagens Nyheter writes that you consider this as one of your biggest mistakes. In what way was it a mistake?
– I think I should have been more restrictive and stopped it, but the information I received was so unanimous from Swedes, Chileans and authoritites. They all said that it was not a big deal and that the Chileans would be able to handle it.
You had feeling that something could go wrong, but your advisors said something else? And you chose to follow their advise?
– That was unusual as I, in general, had a stricter opinion than my counterparties. Overall my assessments were stricter.
In this case you were not strict enough?
– No, I think I should have been stricter.
Is there anything that can be done now?
– No, I believe it’s too late. There is no meaning.
The situation is still problematic for those living in the area.
– Of course the problems need to be addressed.
Who shall do that?
– Chile has the responsibility to clean up the area.
But as Sweden has a responsibility for the material to get there, shouldn’t Sweden do something to help?
– I don’t think so.
You don’t think so?
– No. I think that because Chile provided most of the information that the material could be taken care of, they need to sort out the consequences if they were proved wrong.
Chile has handled the issue since the material arrived there, especially after 1998 when it was discovered that there were damages on people, but it seems as if Chile is not capable of handling it.
– Of course they do if they want to. They can but they don’t want to.
There is now a dialogue between Chile and Sweden after a statement by the Swedish minister of environment Per Bolund in parliament suggested that Sweden could assist Chile in cleaning up the area. What’s your comment on that?
– If an agreement can be achieved, it can of course be so