translated from Spanish: Government accuses Group Mexico’s default in the face of spillage

The Secretary of Health, Jorge Alcocer, reported that to address the effects on the population damaged by the toxic spill in the Sonora River, caused by the Mexico Group, a 15-year follow-up plan will be developed.
The Health Secretariat’s diagnosis of the Mexico Group and its responsibility to the inhabitants affected by the heavy metal spill in the tributary, is that the commitment to provide the necessary medical and hospital conditions was not fulfilled, he explained.
That is why, Alcocer added, a new plan was proposed that will be monitored for the three levels of government.
“It will be a 15-year development plan; the legal framework is based on four axes, legal, multiparticipatory, with annual programs and policies of broad participation and evaluation of goals and results”, the Secretary of Health said at the morning press conference of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
He noted that there was a meeting on 18 December, involving authorities, citizens, academics and representatives of the company.
“Those affected by this toxic spill appeared at the meeting,” he said, mentioning that everyone wanted to express their opinion and demands were made. Based on this, the follow-up plan was raised, Alcocer said.
The spill on 6 August 2014 worsened environmental deterioration conditions in that area; there are also 382 people affected, and there are a thousand files related to this problem.
“The problem was exacerbated by the accident, since long before there is water, land and air pollution from mining activity. Nothing has been done for the health of people and animals,” the secretary criticized.
The demands of the inhabitants include health service, with the strengthening of hospitals, since the nearest one is located 40 minutes in the capital of the state of Sonora; sufficient and specialized personnel, as well as modern equipment, and that the supply of medicines is improved.
“In addition, they called for security throughout the state and for the environmental trust to be regulated by the federal government,” the clerk said.
He criticized that the Trust created by the company in 2014 has not complied with the provisions of the initial agreement.
“Another commitment of the mining company, I repeated, was the creation of a unit that would take care of all that, it was given the name of Environmental Epidemiological Surveillance, UVEA, which you will know, that was financed by the trust of the company and in the opinion of the vast majority, and I share this, it has been dead letter since 2014, never made progress”.
Alcocer said seven million pesos are required to provide all medical staff and nurses to care for the affected population, including psychiatrists because the mental health of the inhabitants was also damaged.
Alcocer noted that it was also raised that there should be management of wastewater and oxidation lagoons, for this it will be supported by the National Water Commission (Conagua), and a hydro-agricultural program will be promoted in the state of Sonora.
“There is evidence that water contamination continues,” said the federal official, who further reported that the rural community hospital and the property built by the Mexico Group to function as a health unit do not qualify for this purpose.
“There was no non-compliance”
Grupo Mexico, faced with the federal government’s signals, denied that it had failed to comply with the damage repair agreements.
“The acidified copper solution spill in 2014 from the Buenavista del Cobre mine was treated in a timely manner, with strict adherence to official regulations; to the operation of the Rio Sonora Trust and under the instructions and supervision of Semarnat, Profepa and Cofepris,” he said in a statement.
“Two billion pesos were contributed, more than the 400 million pesos initially planned for remediation. There was no non-compliance on the part of Grupo México.”
Currently, he continued, “there is no scientific evidence linking affectations on the state of natural resources or health in the area with those facts. Post-incident Sound Water Quality Measurements have been even lower than ten or more years before it occurred.
Grupo Mexico has made an unprecedented effort, carrying out a five-year monitoring program with samples taken in wells in the region, in collaboration with Conagua. That information is public.”
With information from Notimex
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Original source in Spanish

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