Health Clinic Reopens In Town Impacted By 2014 Mining Spill In The Rio Sonora Valley

By Kendal Blust
Published: Wednesday, June 10, 2020 - 3:29pm
Updated: Wednesday, June 10, 2020 - 5:11pm

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Rio Sonora Valley
Kendal Blust/KJZZ
A view of the Rio Sonora valley from a hillside in the town of Baviácora, Sonora, on July 30, 2019.

For the first time in more than three years, a health clinic has reopened in a small Sonoran town still recovering from the impacts of a 2014 toxic spill, considered Mexico’s worst mining disaster.

The arrival of a doctor and the reopening of Bacanuchi’s long-abandoned health clinic this week is a huge victory for women who have been fighting for years to receive medical attention for their families, said Gloria Simpson, who lives in Bacanuchi and is among a group of women who won a court battle this May, affirming the right to local medical care for their children and the community.

"We feel excited to have achieved this," she said. "And to have a doctor in the community is something — apart from being indispensable — it's a victory for us." 

Simpson said reopening the health clinic is especially important now as the coronavirus continues to spread in Sonora. But she emphasized that Bacanuchi and other communities in the Rio Sonora, or Sonora River, valley are still fighting for remediation for environmental, health and economic damage left by the 2014 Buenavista mining spill.

On Aug. 6, 2014, Mexico’s largest mining company, Grupo México, spilled nearly 11 million gallons copper sulfate acid solution carrying heavy metals from the Buenavista copper mine into the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers. An estimated 25,000 people living in seven communities along downstream of the mine in the Rio Sonora valley were impacted by the spill.

Nearly six years later, many say they are still waiting to see the government hold Grupo México accountable to fix the damage caused by the spill and prevent future disasters.

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