Vivid Photos Capture an Environmental Disaster Nobody's Talking About


The news: With a spate of huge stories breaking in the past few weeks, you might not have caught the massive environmental crisis in northern Mexico that began earlier in August.

According to the Associated Press, local politicians claim that Grupo Mexico, a private mining company in Sonora with a troubling track record of hazardous waste violations in Mexico and the U.S., was slow to report a disastrous fault in its leaching ponds, which hold industrial acid used in the mining process. The spill released around 10 million gallons of acid into the Bacanuchi and Sonora Rivers. Roughly 20,000 people were without water on Aug. 12 and on Sunday, Sonora state civil protection director Carlos Arias said that 88 schools would be closed for up to a week until authorities could verify drinking water was uncontaminated.

In another recent incident, a Proyecto Magistral mine accidentally dumped over a half-million gallons of cyanide solution and contaminated an area spanning a half-kilometer square.

The visuals: Locals made clear just how bad the spill was via social media. Some noted serious visible damage to local ecology, despite assurances from the authorities that the spill could not directly harm people.

Image Credit: AP

Image Credit: Associated Press

Think Progress reports that local residents were particularly angry about the lack of communication and perceived hand-waving from Grupo Mexico and the government. Activists also told Yahoo that the spill highlighted everything wrong with a plan to transfer local water-testing responsibilities from government regulators to the company itself.

Image Credit: Infomovil/Twitter

Why you should care: While the threat of climate change is the biggest focus in the environmental movement right now, the incident in Sonora is a sordid reminder that major industrial accidents also continue to pose a major threat to local environments.

Mining pollution doesn't geographically discriminate, either. Just months ago, one of the U.S.' biggest coal producers was fined $27.5 million and ordered to spend $200 million on cleanup after the EPA accused them of violating over 6,000 permits' water-pollution limits in five Appalachian states.