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    Another Historic Court Judgment Against Officials Not Doing Their Job

    By Keith R | June 2, 2007

    Topics: Environmental Justice, Environmental Protection, Government Accountability, Hazardous Substances, Health Issues | No Comments »

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    Yesterday (31 May), it seems, was a banner day for court judgments taking LAC executive branch officials to task for not doing their job in enforcing environment laws. First the Brazilian case finding that federal environment officials must share in the environmental damage reparation costs and compensation for coal mining pollution they did not address in Santa Catarina. Now comes a Chilean Supreme Court decision (upholding a lower court ruling) that environmental health officials must indemnify Arica residents for their health impacts suffered from leaky hazardous wastes the officials authorized to be stored there and did not require to be cleaned up!

    My friends from the LAC Environmental Blogroll (see the blog list on the right-hand sidebar), the Blog of the Environmental Law Center, has the story (follow the link provided above) and they promise to soon provide a more detailed analysis.

    Doubtless they can explain the case better than I, but I’ll attempt to sum up its key points here. In a nutshell, a hazardous waste storage facility containing primarily lead (but also with copper, mercury, cadmium, zinc and arsenic), authorized to operate by Arica’s Health Service, ended out causing severe health impacts on some 365 nearby inhabitants. A crusading lawyer from the nongovernmental organization FIMA sued and has won a judgment requiring the State to indemnify the residents 2.848 billion pesos (about US$4.87 million at current exchange rates) — because the Health Service did not meet its obligations under existing health and environment laws.

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