Target: Juan José Guerra Abud, Secretary of the Environment of Mexico
Goal: Demand accountability for mines responsible for dumping millions of gallons of contaminated wastewater and chemicals in Mexico
August, 2014 will go down as a particularly tragic month for the Mexican environment. Two separate mining tragedies contaminated the nation’s soil and waterways with an alarming amount of sulfuric acid and cyanide, leaving one river a bright and toxic orange color. It becomes increasingly clear that mining companies are either unwilling or unable to maintain adequate safety standards as a part of their operations. Mexico’s environmental regulators must step in and put an end to this outrage.
Groupo Mexico is an industry leader, a subsidiary of which paid the United States $1.79 billion as a settlement for hazardous waste pollution in 19 states reports Common Dreams. A different subsidiary operates the mine in Sonora, Mexico responsible for spilling 10 million gallons of sulfiric acid-laced wastewater into the Bacanuchi River. Residents were advised to avoid all contact with the contaminated river, but the warning came too late to save some livestock. In an unrelated incident roughly a week later 500,000 of cyanide solution used in gold mining overflowed a containment pond in Durango, Mexico.
Water and soil are not endless resources, despite how unconcerned mines seem to be with their protection. Without healthy soil and waterways farms, wildlife and human communities all suffer. Demand that the Mexican government crack down on irresponsible mining companies and hold them accountable for their reckless pollution of the environment.
Dear Secretary Guerra Abud,
Can you imagine the river you and your livestock depend on for survival suddenly turning a sickening orange color? What would you do if your only source of water for bathing, cooking and farming was contaminated with sulfuric acid–or if the soil near your home became tainted with cyanide? These are not hypothetical situations. For many Mexicans living in the states of Sonora and Durango such tragedies have already come to pass. Mining disasters spilled millions of gallons of toxic wastewater in the first half of August alone, and without a deepened commitment to environmental protection there will certainly be more spills in the future.
Mining companies all over the world operate outside the law, unconcerned with the lasting impacts of their search for gold, copper and other precious resources. Yet perhaps the most precious resource of all is clean water, necessary for all life. To trade a river’s health for a company’s profits makes no sense whatsoever.
I must insist that you and your colleagues address this recent series of mining accidents as a top priority. Hold Buenavista del Cobre and the operators of Proyecto Magistral mine responsible for their recklessness, and show that such mismanagement of mining risks will not be tolerated in your great country. Only harsh consequences, and strengthened regulations, can prevent similar tragedies from happening again.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Uncle Kick-Kick via Wikimedia Commons