Boliden lawsuit (re Chile)
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In September 2013, Arica Victims KB, a company representing 707 Chileans, filed a claim against Boliden Mineral, a Swedish mining company, at the county court of Skellefteå, Sweden. The claim alleges that Chileans from Arica have suffered health problems as a result of the dumping of Boliden’s smelter sludge near the town in the 1980s. The plaintiffs have requested SEK 90 million in damages, plus interest.
Boliden shipped approximately 20,000 tonnes of smelter sludge to the Polygono area in Arica between 1984 and 1985. The waste derived from Boliden’s Rönnskär arsenic plant in Sweden and was sold to a Chilean company, Promel, for processing. However, the waste was reportedly left unprocessed and unprotected at the site until 1998. Starting in 1989, housing developments were built nearby, but Chilean authorities concluded in 2009 that the area should be evacuated as it remained contaminated.
The plaintiffs allege that, since the 1990s, the community has suffered from serious diseases, including cancer, miscarriages, skin conditions and breathing problems. Medical tests showed excessive levels of arsenic in the residents’ blood. The plaintiffs allege that Boliden acted negligently. The plaintiffs also state that there is evidence that Boliden knew that the sludge would pose a significant health threat. Boliden had submitted a patent application, prior to the waste dumping, for a new technology to remove arsenic from sludge. In that application, Boliden stated that their technology was the only technology that could make the waste safe.
Boliden filed its defence on 20 January 2014 and denied the claim in its entirety. It argued that it did not act negligently and that it could not have foreseen the events that led to the health problems. It further suggested that it is “improbable” that it was Boliden’s waste that caused the arsenic levels recorded in residents’ blood. Boliden argues that the Chilean health authority and Promel are responsible for the health issues suffered. In support of its argument, it cites a 2007 case, in which the Chilean Supreme Court held that the state had to compensate 365 residents from the Arica area, as a result of health problems caused by toxic waste. In the 2007 Chilean case, Promel was unable to pay any compensation as it had ceased to exist by the time of the judgement. The state was found liable for having not implemented protective measures in relation to the toxic material that Promel had been storing.
In October 2017, the District Court in Skellefteå, Sweden began hearing oral arguments. On 8 March 2018, the Court ruled in favour of Boliden, dismissing the plaintiffs' compensation claim. Plaintiffs are likely to appeal the decision.
- "Swedish mining company Boliden in court over toxic waste in Chile", 17 Oct 2017
- "Chileans sue Swedish mining firm over toxic waste", Malin Rising, Associated Press, 16 Sep 2013
- "Chilean smelting victims sue Sweden’s Boliden", Dorothy Kosich, 17 Sep 2013
- [Audio] "Swedish mining Company sued for poisoning in Chile", Radio Sweden, 16 Sep 2013
- "Summary of Boliden’s statement of defence in the case of Arica Victims KB (plaintiff) vs. Boliden Mineral AB (defendent)", 20 Jan 2014
- "Boliden Interim Report, January-September 2013", 22 Oct 2013
- "Deliveries of smelting residues to Chile during the mid 1980’s", Sep 2013
- "AricaVictims KB’s write of summons against Boliden", 16 Sep 2013
Environmental Defender Law Center:
- "Toxic Swedish mining waste is shipped to Chile", 16 Sep 2013
[PDF] Complaint filed by Arica Victims, 12 Sep 2013 [available in Swedish only]
All components of this story
Swedish court denies compensation to victims in lawsuit against mining co. Boliden over its toxic waste dump in Chile
"Swedish court rules in favor of Boliden in Chile waste export case", 8 Mar 2018
A Swedish court ruled in favor of mining company Boliden in a civil case...where the company had been sued over the export of industrial waste to Chile in the 1980s. In the case between Boliden and around 800 people in the Chilean city of Arica, Boliden had been sued for around 100 million Swedish crowns ($12.12 million)...In the mid-1980s, Boliden exported smelter sludge to Arica, where it had signed an agreement with Chilean firm Promel which was going to reprocess the material. But Promel went out of business in the early 1990s and the waste was never fully processed. The suit was brought against Boliden in 2013. The company has denied wrongdoing and argued the exports were carried out responsibly.
Lawsuit against Boliden over export of toxic waste to Chile & its health impact on Arica residents starts in Sweden
Author: Radio Sweden
"Swedish mining company Boliden in court over toxic waste in Chile", 17 Oct 2017
In 1984 and 1985, 20,000 tons of toxic waste from Boliden's smelting factory in Skellefteå, in northern Sweden, was shipped to Chile and the town of Arica. Boliden paid SEK 10 million to the Chilean company Promel, which said that they would extract arsenic and gold ore from the waste. But in reality, the waste was left open in a big black pile close to a residential area. For years, the children were even playing on the pile, which contained large amounts of arsenic and lead.
In the 1990s it emerged that many people in Arica became seriously ill, suffering from cancer, chronic coughing, and aching joints.
Some have already received compensation through Chilean lawsuits, which looked at the responsibility of Chilean authorities as well as the company Promel. (Promel went bust a few years after the deal with Boliden.)
Now, a district court in Skellefteå will rule on whether Boliden also had a responsibility for the 796 people who have jointly sued the company for SEK 100 million in damages...
Boliden claims they followed all the laws and rules that were in place at the time, and that Swedish as well as Chilean authorities knew about the export...[It] says any damages should be paid by the Chilean authorities, which allowed a residential area close to the waste, as well as Promel, which was responsible for taking care of the waste, but did not do it.
Author: El Mostrador (Chile)
"Comienza juicio de chilenos en contra de empresa sueca que dejó residuos tóxicos en Arica en los 80´", 17 de octubre de 2017
Más de 20 mil toneladas de residuos tóxicos provenientes de la minera sueca Boliden Metall fueron internadas por Arica entre 1984 y 1989 por la empresa chilena Promel...
La idea era que los residuos tóxicos fueran tratados para recuperar oro y plata... la firma nacional nunca realizó dicho trabajo y abandonó los residuos en un lugar donde años más tarde se construirían cinco villas para 12 mil personas. Una parte importante de los habitantes... presentó síntomas de intoxicación por metales....
Diez años más tarde, la Corte Suprema determinó que Promel y sus socios debían reparar el daño y el Estado indemnizar a las 365 personas que participaron en la demanda con $8 millones para cada una.
De forma paralela, abogados del estudio jurídico Fima (Fiscalía del Medio Ambiente) acudieron a la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH)...
Este martes, comenzó un juicio por el caso en Suecia, país de origen de los residuos tóxicos.
Johan Öberg, quien representa a 796 demandantes chilenos, ha estado trabajando en el caso junto ..al Centro de Derecho Ambiental Defensor de los EE.UU. (EDLC)...Los afectados exigen una compensación monetaria por cerca de $7.500 millones.
Documentary film director testifies as a witness in Swedish lawsuit against Boliden over allegations of firm dumping toxic waste in Chile
Author: Laika Film
"Film director in court as landmark legal case begins", 16 Oct 2017
[Lars Edman, the Swedish film director of multi-award winning documentary, TOXIC PLAYGROUND] has been summoned to appear as a witness in a land-mark trial beginning on Tueday October 17th in...Sweden.
The case against Swedish mining corporation Boliden has been brought by Arica Victims KB, a newly formed Swedish company representing 796 Chileans from Arica who have suffered from multiple health problems since toxic waste was dumped in their town in1985.
Edman and his co-director William Johansson exposed the case of the Arica Victims in their multi-award winning documentary, TOXIC PLAYGROUND which prompted Lewis Gordon, executive director of the Enivronmental Law Defender Centre in the USA to begin a collaboration with a Swedish legal team led by attorney Johan Oberg.
...The court will watch evidence from over 30 hours of material filmed during the production of Toxic Playground, featuring the Boliden employee responsible for allowing the toxic waste to leave Sweden.
The trial is set to continue for the next eight weeks.
Summary of Boliden’s statement of defence in the case of Arica Victims KB (plaintiff) vs. Boliden Mineral AB (defendant)
Author: Boliden (Sweden)
...Boliden Mineral believes that the accusations are groundless and contests the entire claim. Boliden Mineral has not acted negligently in connection with the sale to Promel, nor was it possible for Boliden Mineral to predict the subsequent course of events. It would, furthermore, seem improbable that the metallic residues delivered by Boliden Mineral are the cause of the elevated arsenic levels in the 707 Private Individuals...
Author: Boliden (Sweden)
...On 7 October, Boliden received a writ of summons regarding damages totalling just over SEK 90 million plus interest. The claim is in respect of the arsenic poisoning of just over 700 injured parties in the town of Arica in Chile, to which Boliden exported smelter sludge from Rönnskär between 1984 and 1985 for processing by a Chilean company, Promel. The suit has been brought by a Swedish limited partnership, Arica Victims KB. The next stage in the process is for Boliden to enter a defence...
Author: Boliden (Sweden)
…Between 1984 and 1985, Boliden delivered…approximately 20,000 tonnes of metallic residues from the Rönnskär smelter to…Promel…in Arica…[A]n initial shipment was sent to Chile in August 1984…A second consignment was dispatched in…1984 and the third and final consignment left Boliden in…1985. The exports complied with all applicable laws and regulations and were conducted under the supervision of the Swedish and Chilean authorities. Boliden ensured, as far as possible, that the material would be processed in the correct manner…Boliden…has no first-hand knowledge of developments in Arica after 1985…When we found out, in 1998, that the inhabitants of Arica might have suffered harm as a result of the hazardous waste, we offered on several occasions to provide expert assistance for the decontamination of the area, in cooperation with various Swedish and Chilean bodies. The offers were never taken up…
Author: Dorothy Kosich, Mineweb (So. Africa)
…Boliden paid 10 million kronor in the 1980s to Chilean company Promel in…Arica to dispose of 20,000 tonnes of…“smelting residues” that was…too dangerous to keep on site…The pile was unprotected and accessible by children and young people…High levels of lead and arsenic…[that] could be traced to the sludge were discovered in government surveys…Legal proceedings in Chile ruled Promel and Chilean health authorities are responsible for what happened. Damages were paid to the victims and the area was evacuated in 2009…[Recently] Arica Victims KB filed a…summons against Boliden…before [a]…court…in Sweden…The…investigation conducted by Boliden earlier this year at the behest of Arica Victims KB came to the same conclusion as previous investigations “namely that it has happened, of course, is deeply regrettable and terribly sad for those affected, but we believe that the responsibility is not ours…”
Author: Boliden (Sweden)
On 16 September 2013 the company Arica Victims KB filed a writ of summons against Boliden Mineral AB before the district court of Skellefteå. The claim amounts to approximately SEK 90 million plus interest and relates to deliveries of smelter sludge made from Boliden to the Chilean company PROMEL between the years 1984 -1985...
Author: Associated Press
A group of 707 Chileans sued Swedish mining company Boliden on Monday, demanding 91 million kronor ($13.9 million) in compensation for health problems allegedly caused by toxic waste the company dumped in northern Chile. The lawsuit filed with a Swedish district court claims Boliden exported 20,000 tons of mining waste to the Chilean town of Arica in the mid-1980s, despite knowing it was highly toxic and could not be handled safely at the site…Boliden said it regrets what happened in Arica but claims the responsibility lies with Chilean authorities who allowed houses to be built near the dump site in the 1990s, and the Chilean company Promel that Boliden paid to take care of the waste.
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