Thursday, August 21, 2014

México: Update--10.5 Million Gallons of Copper Sulfate Acid Spills Into Sonora, Bacanuchi Rivers

According The Latin American Tribune, México’s Congress has urged the federal government to cancel Grupo México’s concession for a large copper mine in the northwestern state of Sonora after acid spilled into two rivers.

The Permanent Committee, which assumes legislative duties when Congress is in recess, called for a halt to operations at the Cananea mine while authorities assess the damage caused by the August 6, spill of 40,000 cubic meters (10.5 million gallons) of copper sulfate acid solution into the Sonora and Bacanuchi Rivers.

The Mexico City-based mining giant’s negligence in storing chemical residues caused the spill, the Committee said.

“The company did not immediately inform the authorities or the population of this situation, preventing the necessary steps from being taken to prevent this environmental disaster from reaching the level it is at now,” the resolution approved by majority vote stated.

COMMENT: Lawmaker Fidel Pacheco of the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) said in introducing the measure that the spill severely affected seven municipalities, including Hermosillo, the state capital.

The spill forced the temporary closure of more than 700 wells, causing water shortages affecting thousands of people and adversely impacting on agricultural production.

The resolution also calls for the lower house’s Political Coordination Board to create a special committee to monitor the spill management response.

On Monday (August 18), México’s Profepa environmental protection agency filed a criminal complaint against Grupo México subsidiaries Buenavista del Cobre and Minera México over the accident.

The Environment Secretariat said Tuesday (August 19) that Grupo México could face a fine of more than 40 million pesos ($3 million).