Researchers Push For Greater Monitoring, Community Inclusion On Rio Sonora

By Kendal Blust
Published: Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - 2:46pm
Updated: Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - 2:47pm

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water cistern from Grupo México
Kendal Blust/KJZZ
Many homes in the Rio Sonora valley have water cisterns provided by Grupo México after the toxic waste spill from its Buenavista de cobre mine in Cananea, Sonora.

It’s been seven years since a major mining spill in neighboring Sonora, Mexico, dumped millions of gallons of toxic waste into Sonoran waterways. Now, a group of researchers are out with a new report asking for more work to be done to monitor the damage.

The August 2014 spill at Grupo Mexico’s Buenavista copper mine has left lasting damage in the Rio Sonora watershed. And testing by both government and independent groups continues to turn up high levels of contamination in the water, including arsenic, lead, cadmium and other heavy metals.

Laurie Silvan is part of the binational group Independent Socio-Environmental Rio Sonora Water Project to better understand the impacts of the spill.

During a presentation of their findings, she said it's clear that the Buenavista copper mine continues to be the main source of contamination in the area, but that more testing needs to be done to better understand the level of risk to the local residents. The team also emphasized the importance in including community members in the process. Many have lost trust in officials after more than seven years without a robust response to the damage from the spill.

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