sonora river Sonora River after the copper mine spill.

How many affected by copper mine spill?

Authorities must provide the answer after freedom-of-information request

The federal Health Secretariat has been ordered by the National Institute for Transparency and Access to Information (Inai) to reveal how many people were affected by the 2014 toxic spill at the Grupo México copper mine Buenavista del Cobre.

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The order came after a private citizen filed an information release request with health authorities on the impact of the August 2014 spill of more than 40,000 cubic meters of toxic substances, particularly sulfuric acid, into the Sonora and Bacanuchi rivers.

The spill affected the water supply of at least 21,000 families in the region.

Through a press release, the transparency institute stated that when the citizen first filed the request the Health Secretariat declared itself unqualified to fulfill it. The federal agency instead referred it to the Federal Commission for Protection Against Health Risks (Cofepris) and the Health Secretariat of the state of Sonora.

But the request was never fulfilled.

Inai decided that the federal Health Secretariat was indeed qualified to respond to the citizen’s request.

“There’s public information available that indicates that the Health Secretariat has performed several monitoring and specialized medical attention actions on the population affected by the sulfuric acid spill in the Sonora River,” stated the communiqué issued by Inai.

The decision revokes the negative answer given by the secretariat to the original request, and orders the federal agency to determine the number of individuals who suffered health effects as well as their current health status.

Source: El Economista (sp)

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