Ira Rennert is a New York billionaire who owns Renco, an industrial empire that invests in foreign companies. Renco owns the smelting company Doe Run Peru in La Oroya, a town of 35,000 embedded in the Peruvian Andes which has been named one of the world’s 10 worst polluted places by the Blacksmith Institute, a non-profit that studies toxic sites around the world. According to a study in 2005, 97% of the children in La Oroya have toxic levels of lead in their blood as a result of the emissions coming from Doe Run Peru’s smokestacks.
Although Renco is under international pressure to clean the contamination it is producing, the company claims that they cannot do so due to financial difficulties (probably a lie considering the company attempted to buy out Saab this month). In fact, Doe Run Peru has threatened to close rather than take care of the contamination. Terminating operations of Doe Run Peru may improve the health of the people of La Oroya in the long run, but it would also result in the loss of over 3,000 jobs which would destroy the livelihood of the men, women, and children of the already destitute town who depend on Doe Run Peru as a source of income.