By RYAN DUBE
LIMA, Peru -- Peru's government has eased new environmental standards in three cities following concerns that they could shut down refineries that are unable to comply with the standards.
The Environment Ministry issued a resolution over the weekend that exempts the cities of Ilo, La Oroya and Arequipa from tougher environmental standards aimed at lowering the levels for sulfur-dioxide emissions.
The resolution, which was published in official gazette El Peruano, says that an action plan should be created to ensure a gradual decrease in the emissions of sulfur-dioxide in those cities.
The southern city of Ilo is home to a copper refinery owned by Southern Copper. The company recently sent a statement to its workers saying that it may have to close the refinery if it had to comply with the tougher environmental standards.
La Oroya, located in Peru's central highlands, is the site of a poly-metallic smelter previously operated by Doe Run Peru, which is owned by the US-based Renco Group.
Operations at the La Oroya plant, which has been known for causing serious environmental pollution, were suspended in 2009 due to financing troubles. The facility restarted operations last year and are now being overseen by the creditors of Doe Run Peru.
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