A call from an archbishop in Peru sent a public health expert to test the area surrounding La Orayo, a factory town in the Andes mountains of Peru. The expert’s findings were frightening and have since gotten the owner of the nearby refinery in hot water.
Ira Rennert’s La Oroya refinery is said to be responsible for the destruction of the land and poisoning of the area’s people.
La Oroya sits about five hours east of Lima, and health expert Fernanado Serrano traveled to the city in 2004 after receiving the archbishop’s call. He discovered that the town’s soil was so acidic it could no longer support plant life. He also found the soil to be contaminated with arsenic, antimony, and cadmium.
Even more worrisome were the results of the blood tests performed on some of the area residents. Serrano found that about 97 percent of children between six and twelve tested had blood lead levels four times higher than what the U.S. considers dangerous.
Serrano called the contamination “a big problem.”