Almost certainly know:
Mercury is a very dangerous substance, highly toxic and can be ingested through simple touch.
Of the 151kg of mercury spilled, 49.1kg was recovered, 17.4kg was absorbed into the earth, 21.2kg evaporated and 3.3kg is still unaccounted for (all official numbers).
Unlikely to know:
The mayor of Choropampa, Vicente Zárate Minchán, died early Monday morning, 10th November 2008. He was 34 years old and had been displaying symptoms typical to mercury poisoning.
Very unlikely to know
According to the local doctor (please note the singular), there are 80 other people displaying the same symptoms as showed Mr Zárate, a syndrome known as Guillain-Barré. The local doctor also says that 10 people have already died that were displaying the same symptoms. This is the point where lawyers for Yanacocha mine will tell the world that there is no proven connection between the death of Mr. Zárate, the other symptoms shown by locals and the mercury spillage. They will also show the world pieces of paper to prove their point. That's fine by me. This is also the point when Otto tells Yanacocha's lawyers to go **** themselves with a sharp stick.
I'd be extremely surprised if you knew:
In the eight years since the accident, the medical infrastructure in the village of Choropampa has not changed an iota. It is still reliant on a Medical Post that has one obstetrice, one doctor, one nurse and one technician. Yanacocha claims that all locals have access to private health coverage, but the villagers note that to claim on the insurance they have to travel to the city of Cajamarca, a mockery for those seriously ill.