Sonora River Contaminated Sonora River.ap and Ulises Gutiérrez

Conagua warns against contact with Sonora River due to contaminants

The National Water Commission (Conagua) is maintaining a prohibition against contact with the water of the Sonora River after testing revealed high levels of contamination as a result of the Buenavista del Cobre mine spill August 6.

People living along on a 250-kilometer stretch of the Sonora River have been warned against having any contact with the water due to levels of arsenic, cadmium, copper, chrome and mercury that exceed the maximum permissible levels.

The restricted zone applies to 500 meters on each side of the river, and includes wells. “The quality of groundwater is also affected, principally by the presence of the heavy metals,” said Conagua in a statement.

Water testing was carried out on samples taken from the river August 19 and 20.

Conagua said it would continue testing until the contaminant levels are deemed safe.

The state agriculture secretariat has issued an assurance that livestock raised on the banks of the river do not represent any threat to human health. However, in one report this week a rancher was seen watering his cattle in the river.

The state government is maintaining the suspension of classes in schools located near the river. About 6,000 students are affected.

The environmental agency Profepa says it will have results of its investigation Monday or Tuesday, when it is expected to decide what sanctions to impose on the mine, owned by Grupo Mexico.

Source: La Jornada (sp)

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