Mercury from mining prompts emergency in Peru


A state of emergency aimed at addressing health problems related to widespread mercury poisoning in the southeastern Peruvian Amazon has raised tensions between national government officials and local authorities in the Madre de Dios region. The May 23 emergency decree blames the contamination on unregulated alluvial gold mining, in which miners use mercury to separate gold from sediment. Mining operations have also choked rivers with silt and deforested about 100,000 hectares (386 square miles), according to government figures. The decree paves the way for additional studies of mercury in humans and the environment, as well as food and medical assistance, water treatment, environmental monitoring and other measures, says Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal. The measure’s long-term impact may be in doubt, because Peru’s presidential... [Log in to read more]

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