Last week’s spill of sulfuric acid into the Gulf of California at a Grupo México facility will probably not have a serious environmental impact, according to Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) Secretary Víctor Toledo Manzur.
Toledo told a press conference that Semarnat will continue monitoring the situation and examine Grupo México’s history of environmental accidents. According to the environmentalist group Poder, the company has been implicated in 120 environmental infractions since the year 2000.
The environmental protection agency Profepa has opened an investigation into the July 9 spill.
Carlos Navarrete, a Social Encounter Party deputy in the Sonora legislature, blamed Grupo México for what he called an “environmental tragedy,” and said he will push the federal government to cancel the company’s mining concessions in Sonora.
“We have serious problems because of Grupo México, because they’re polluting every day, and there hasn’t been a complete investigation by Profepa or Semarnat,” he said. “It’s more like ‘Grupo Tóxico’ than Grupo México, because it’s hurting the health of all Sonorans.”
In his morning press conference on Monday, President López Obrador promised there will be an investigation into the accident, and that Grupo México will be punished if wrongdoing is discovered.
Grupo México stocks have already suffered as a result of the spill. Between July 10, when the accident occurred, and market close on Monday the company lost over 16 billion pesos (US $838 million) on the Mexican stock exchange, or 4.4% of its value.
Meanwhile, Profepa said the death of a sea lion in Guaymas, photos of which appeared on social media, was not connected with the spill. The photos were taken last month.
But an autopsy is being carried out on a dead sea turtle to determine the cause of death.
Grupo México is owned by Germán Larrea, the second-richest person in Mexico, and is the country’s largest mining company.