QUINTERO – The environmental disaster in the communities of Quintero and Puchuncaví is far from over. Every week new victims of intoxication are being brought to hospitals, while the source of the contamination remains a mystery. As long as the source hasn´t been found, pregnant women and minors should be evacuated from the area, the Medical Association says.
A commission of specialists from the World Health Organization (WHO) visited the affected area yesterday. Following the visit, the specialists met with representatives of the national Medical Association. According to Radio Cooperativa, the president of the Medical Association, Izkia Siches, asked the government to ¨suspend all industrial activities in the area, to avoid longer exposing the population to the sources of emission. The government should consider moving the population¨.
As classes still are being suspended, children and citizens of the communities still visit hospitals with breathing problems, nausea, headaches and dizziness. Companies in the area, such as the state-funded ENAP and Oxiquim, a company controversial because of its ties with the Minister of Health and the president, have declared to have nothing to do with the tragedy. As the mystery of what´s behind the contamination is still not solved, children and women should leave the area, the Medical Association said. The president of the Medical Association Izkia Saches has asked the army to take care of this evacuation.
What happened in Quintero?
The communities of Quintero and Puchuncaví have been making headlines for quite a while now. It started when a toxic spread injured over 300 citizens around the industrial area. They were brought to the hospitals, while the source of the spread remained unknown. Later investigations showed that the communities have been suffering for years from environmental damage caused by industry. There were traces of arsenic found in the drinking water and forbidden chemicals have been used companies several years ago. But over the weeks, new victims of intoxication appeared and as the mystery behind the contamination hasn´t been solved yet, both citizens and health organizations are waiting for a firm response from the government.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.