Free Trade Agreement Puts Environmental Protection Laws at Risk
Few countries understand the harmful consequences of hastily-ratified trade deals better than Peru. La Oroya, Peru – one of the world’s most polluted sites – has been compared to Chernobyl due to toxic contamination from nearby metal refineries. Most of La Oroya’s children suffer from elevated lead levels, according to the Peruvian government. Parents say some have symptoms consistent with lead poisoning that include anemia, convulsions, stunted growth, and developmental delays.
The Renco Group, a New York-based mining giant, claimed the Peruvian government violated the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement by not granting the company a third delay to install smokestack scrubbers in the metal refinery, the source of the pollution. Renco is now demanding $800 million from Peru, arguing that the government’s environmental regulations violate its rights under the free trade agreement. Shortly after Renco filed its trade case, the Peruvian government reversed course and allowed the smelter to reopen. The refinery still operates without the proper filtration equipment needed to keep it from spewing lead and other toxic materials on the town.
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