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Luke Coppen's Catholic Herald Blog

Cafod accuses mining company of polluting local water

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The official aid agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales claims it has uncovered documents showing water contamination at a mine in Honduras owned by mining giant Goldcorp.

Cafod says:

Cafod’s Extractives Policy Analyst Sonya Maldar said: ‘Despite Goldcorp’s continual denial, this new information provides irrefutable evidence that the San Martin mine has caused pollution in Honduras. This is the latest in a long list of problems at the mine. Goldcorp must clean up its act so that the people of Siria Valley are not left with a toxic legacy when the company leaves Honduras at the end of the year.’

Mining specialists from Newcastle University carried out an investigation into the design and implementation of Goldcorp’s mine closure plan. The report produced by the Newcastle University team includes data – previously undisclosed by the Honduran regulatory authorities – showing a severe incident of pollution in September 2008.

The report released today reveals acidity of the water at two sites reached levels of a pH between 2.5 and 3, which is typically very damaging to stream biology. (Distilled water has a pH of 7, vinegar 3 and lemon juice 2). As well as high levels of cadmium, copper and iron.

This is consistent with a complaint presented by a local community group, the Siria Valley Environmental Committee, to Honduras’ Environmental Prosecutor about discolouration of the water flowing from streams originating from within the mine’s perimeter on 24 September 2008. Community members reported that the water was a ‘reddish colour (…) and emanated a strong smell of sulphur’. This indicates that contaminated water from the mine’s perimeter had entered streams used by people in the Siria Valley for domestic and agricultural purposes.

Cafod and other activists will meet Goldcorp officials at their offices in Toronto on December 10 to discuss concerns raised by the report.

Cafod has some good background on the mine here.

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Written by Luke Coppen

December 2, 2009 at 3:08 pm

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