Demanda a Boliden (Chile)

Aitik_coppar_mine_Boliden_via_wikimedia_commons

For an English-language version of this case profile, please click here.

En septiembre de 2013, Arica Victims KB, una empresa que representa a 707 chilenos, presentó una demanda contra Boliden Mineral, una empresa minera sueca, ante el tribunal del condado de Skellefteå, Suecia. La demanda alega que ciudadanos chilenos de la región de Arica han sufrido problemas de salud como resultado del vertimiento de lodo de la fundición de Boliden cerca al pueblo en los años 80. Los demandantes han solicitado 90 millones de coronas suecas por los daños, más intereses.

Boliden embarcó alrededor de 20.000 toneladas de lodo de fundición al área de Polígono, en Arica, entre 1984 y 1985. El desecho provenía de la planta de arsénico Rönnskär de Boliden, en Suecia y fue vendido a una empresa chilena, Promel, para su procesamiento. Sin embargo, se reportó que los desperdicios se dejaron sin procesar y sin protección alguna en aquel lugar hasta 1998. A inicios de 1989, se construyeron conjuntos residenciales cerca al sitio, pero las autoridades chilenas concluyeron en 2009 que el área debería evacuarse ya que seguía estando contaminada.

Los demandantes alegan que, desde la década de los 90, la comunidad ha padecido enfermedades graves, incluyendo cáncer, abortos, problemas en la piel y enfermedades respiratorias. Las pruebas médicas mostraron niveles excesivos de arsénico en la sangre de los residentes. Los demandantes argumentan que Boliden actuó con negligencia, y también señalaron que hay evidencias de que la empresa sueca sabía que el lodo representaría una amenaza importante a la salud. Boliden había radicado una solicitud de patente antes del vertido de los desechos, relativa a una nueva tecnología que removería el arsénico del lodo. En dicha solicitud, Boliden manifestaba que su tecnología era la única que podría hacer que dichos desechos fueran totalmente seguros.

Boliden presentó su defensa el 20 de enero de 2014 y refutó la demanda en su totalidad. Argumentó que no actuó con negligencia y que no habría podido prever los eventos que causaron los problemas de salud. Adicionalmente, sugirió que es “improbable” que fueran los desechos de Boliden los que causaron los niveles de arsénico encontrados en la sangre de los residentes. Argumentó que la autoridad de salud chilena y Promel son los responsables de los problemas de salud presentados. Para apoyar su planteamiento, cita un caso de 2007 en el que la Corte Suprema de Chile sostuvo que el Estado debía compensar a 365 residentes de la región de Arica, como resultado de problemas de salud causados por desechos tóxicos. En ese caso de 2007, Promel no tuvo que pagar ninguna compensación ya que la empresa había cesado de existir para el momento del fallo. Al contrario, se halló al Estado culpable por no haber implementado medidas de protección en relación con el material tóxico que Promel había estado almacenando.  

En octubre de 2017, el Tribunal de Distrito de Skellefteå, Suecia, comenzó a escuchar los argumentos orales, y se espera que las audiencias concluyan en diciembre.

En marzo de 2018, la Corte del Distrito de Skellefteå decidió absolver a la empresa sueca de pagar el monto exigido por los demandantes.

El caso continúa.

- [EN] "Chileans sue Swedish mining firm over toxic waste", Malin Rising, Associated Press, 16 Sep 2013
- "Residuos Mineros de Suecia Envenenan a Niños Chilenos", Centro Legal de Defensores del Medio Ambiente, 26 de septiembre de 2013
- [EN] [Audio] "Swedish mining Company sued for poisoning in Chile", Radio Sweden, 16 Sep 2013

Boliden:
- [EN] "Summary of Boliden’s statement of defence in the case of Arica Victims KB (plaintiff) vs. Boliden Mineral AB (defendent)", 20 Jan 2014
- [EN] "Boliden Interim Report, January-September 2013", 22 Oct 2013
- [EN] "Deliveries of smelting residues to Chile during the mid 1980’s", Sep 2013
- [EN] "AricaVictims KB’s write of summons against Boliden", 16 Sep 2013

Environmental Defender Law Center:
- [EN] "Toxic Swedish mining waste is shipped to Chile", 16 Sep 2013

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Artículo
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Autor(a): Reuters

"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.

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Autor(a): 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.

 

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Artículo
19 October 2017

Suecia: Comienza juicio contra empresa minera sueca Boliden por residuos tóxicos exportados a Arica en Chile

Autor(a): 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.

 

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Autor(a): 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.

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Ítem
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Autor(a): 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...

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Reporte
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Autor(a): 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...

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Autor(a): 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…

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Autor(a): 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…” 

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Ítem
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Autor(a): 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...

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Artículo
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Autor(a): 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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