Last Friday, June 17, after an extraordinary session of Codelco’s board, the government announced the decision to close the Ventanas Smelter.
The decision was made due to the large emission of sulfur dioxide from the smelter. To this is added the latest episode of intoxication in the commune of Ventanas, Valparaíso region. Where 21 students from the Sargento Aldea and La Chocota schools were affected by various discomforts.
In Un País Generoso, we spoke with Patricia Muñoz, an advocate for children, to find out how the Ventanas Foundry has impacted the health of children in the area.
How does the Ventanas Foundry affect children?
After almost 60 years, the Ventana Smelter will stop working by decision of Codelco’s board of directors. Due to the large emission of sulfur dioxide and the latest episodes of intoxication of the residents of the sector.
Cases of poisoning in the area date back to the 90’s. However, during the history of the Ventanas Foundry, more than hundreds of workers died of cancer. And it is that the precarious working conditions of the place have generated different mobilizations throughout throughout its history.
But not only workers are affected by pollution. The inhabitants of the area are also exposed to this and that also includes the little ones.
And the situation is so complex that according to the study “Advanced determination of the spatial gradient of risk for human and ecological health: Risk of exposure to As, Cu, Pb and Zn in soils of the Ventanas Industrial Complex”.
The one that concluded that the infants of Quinteros and Puchuncaví are more vulnerable to carcinogenic agents. This due to the high concentration of pollutants to which children in the area are exposed.
Along the same lines, with the latest information on the poisoning of minors and the closure of the Ventanas foundry, the Ombudsman for Children sent this Thursday to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a request for precautionary measures in favor of the more than 13,000 thousand children and adolescents who live in the communes of Quinteros and Puchuncaví.
“We have turned out to present a definition of precautionary measures to prevent intoxications from continuing to occur and affect the Human Rights of children.” Patricia Muñoz explained to A Generous Country.
In 2019, the Supreme Court generated a sentence regarding the situation of children and the constant intoxications in the area. However, to date they have not been fulfilled.
“It is unacceptable that, given a ruling, the state bodies do not comply with what is clearly established. Our intention is to highlight the seriousness and urgency of this issue to generate different results, otherwise the children will continue to be exposed to the violation of their rights. Rights”. Sentenced, the defender of Children.
Although the closing of Codelco’s Ventanas Smelter is valued by the Ombudsman, the institution points out that more measures are required.
“It is necessary to determine which companies are polluting and which are not so that they can work. So, for now, we should know clearly what causes the poisoning. From Ventanas they say that they are not responsible for the pollution. But the industrial cordon emanates toxicity in land, water and sky”. The lawyer concluded.