Mexico’s largest mining company has responded with an outlay of cash to try to remediate and compensate for the disaster at its copper mine in Sonora. But in Taxco, Guerrero, they’re still waiting.
Residents of Taxco and nearby towns say their pollution problems go back years, but there is one thing they have in common with Cananea, Sonora, home of the Buenavista copper mine, where a disastrous toxic waste spill took place August 6: Grupo Mexico is the mine owner, and is responsible for the contamination.
Three mines, closed now for the past seven years, have been blamed for discharging pollutants into two rivers, the Balsas, the state’s largest, and Xochula, over the course of 70 years, affecting some 10 communities in the municipality of Taxco de Alarcón.
A study by the environmental agency Profepa found high levels of contamination in tailings ponds and earth samples that could create health problems for the local population. The 2009 study revealed high levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium and vanadium.
A report today by El Universal says it was suggested to the National Water Commission that water sources be analyzed, but nothing has come of it, says miner Roberto Hernández Mojica.
Testing also found levels of lead in the blood of children who attend a school near the mines, but the report didn’t say what those levels were.
The Taxco story is complicated somewhat by the fact that Hernández Mojica and his fellow mineworkers have been on strike against the Grupo Mexico subsidiary that operated the mines for the past seven years. After the miners struck, the company closed its three mines, saying the mineral deposits had been exhausted.
So there is no love lost between the company and its former employees. However, the latter point not only to the Profepa study but the yellow water that enters the Xochula River near the entrance to the mine Solar 1, and other signs of contamination.
Juan Pérez, 62, says there used to be lots of fruit trees, guavas, apples and lime, and avocados as well, but all have disappeared due to the pollution. In Santa Rosa de Lima, where he lives, people are susceptible to welts.
They wash their clothes, their dishes and themselves in the yellow water because there isn’t anything else to use.
Profepa offered a list of measures to remedy the problems in Taxco, including studies of groundwater, surface water, flora and fauna, crops and livestock and many more.
Those actions remain as nothing more than a list on a piece of paper, say local residents, who claim nothing has been done to repair the damage.
Grupo Mexico’s public relations firm did not respond to a request for the company’s version of the story.
Source: El Universal (sp)