Hazardous Waste Information

Hard Rock Mining — Largest Polluter in the United States   "Hard rock mining companies and coal-burning power plants are the two most polluting industries in the United States, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Both industries were responsible for nearly two-thirds of all the chemicals released into the nation's air and water. Hard rock mining includes the mining of gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, uranium, molybdenum, etc." Arizona came in third with 744 million pounds of toxics released!

POLLUTION LOCATOR — Scorecard Community Center" A direct link to Environmental Defense's Scorecard for Pima County. Asarco and Sierrita mines top the list. An extensive map based site that provides national, state, and regional (by zip code) breakdowns of TRI data including comparisons among geographic areas."

RIGHT TO KNOW Network Contains detailed list of releases and waste by chemical name.

Toxic Waste Material dumped at Duval/Sierrita Mine site
Summary of pollution data for 1998 - 2002
Details of pollution data for 2000 - 2003
It is detailed, so check the maximum amount on site and the summary at the end of each record. Also, the information is a bit misleading because some of the chemicals are manufactured for sale are also listed: they are listed as "Off-site Disposal." What we are concerned with are the "On-site Impoundments," which means on-site dumping. "Land Release" also means it was dumped on site, "air release" means that it polluted the air. Pay particular attention to the extremely high levels of many of the following toxic chemicals:

Ammonia  Ranked as one of the most hazardous compounds (worst 10%) to ecosystems. Suspected toxicant of several human organs and the nervous system.

Chromium  Ranked as one of the most hazardous compounds (worst 10%) to human health. Suspected carcinogen, toxicant of liver, kidney and resperatory system.

Cobalt  Ranked as one of the most hazardous compounds to human health. Recognized carcinogen. Suspected toxicant of most of the human organs, including heart.

Copper  Ranked as most hazardous compound to human health in 9 out of 9 ranking systems. Suspected toxicant of several human organs, particularly liver. The copper is extracted, but some remains in the solutions that go to the tailings ponds.

Lead  Ranked as one of the most hazardous compounds to ecosystems and human health, a known carcinogen.

Manganese  Ranked as one of the most hazardous compounds to human health.

Mercury compounds  More hazardous than most chemicals in 6 out of 7 ranking systems. See hazardous waste incidents for Phelps Dodge Sierritas Mine.

Molybdenum Trioxide  More hazardous than most chemicals in 1 out of 8 ranking systems. This is an important chemical as it is not regulated by the water standards, yet it is a suspected carcinogen, neurotoxicant (that's our brain!) and resipitory toxicant. This chemical is considered most toxic if inhaled. Phelps Dodge Sierritas does manufacture it for sell (somewhere between 1,000,000 and 10,000,000 lbs. in 2002), but with an air release of 4,000 lbs. in the process.

Nickel  More hazardous than most chemicals in 8 out of 11 ranking systems, a recognized carcinogen and supected of damaging nearly every organ of the body. 318,840 lbs. of it was dumped on the ground every year since 2000.

Nitrate Compounds  Less hazardous than most chemicals. Suspected cardiovascular or blood toxicant.

Sulfuric acid   More hazardous than most chemicals in 7 out of 10 ranking systems. It is not a toxin that has known health factors, only suspected ones, including respiratory. I guess it depends on how close you are to the acid! The numbers for Duval/Sierrita mine are shocking: a range from 14,000 to 39,000 pounds annually dumped behind those barbed wires and toxic mounds. I guess we were lucky that only 18,710 lbs. escaped into the air in one year—"fugitive" escape.

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