Rep. Raul Grijalva holds field hearing on mining in Santa Ritas
Arizona Star report by Tony Davis
EPA requests further assessment local mines:
Environmental Impact of Sulfuric Acid Leaching
New mines proposed in Arizona on public land
Mine at Apache Leap and Superior
Rosemont mine in the Santa Rita
CAP Water Use at Rosemont to offset groundwater pumping
PLAN OF OPERATIONS
Comments on Rosemont Mine by Pima County Officials including Chuck Huckleberry and
This is what Rosemont could be!
by Pima County
Priority Vulnerable Species known to occur in the Rosemont Ranch area)
Latest Additions to site—
Another Point of View—
From an AZ Miner
View "No significant environmental effects" computer video from Mining Watch Canada
(You may have to download Quick Time Player—free
PD Sierrita Data and Records
Public Hearing Records with Work Plan
Public Hearing Records
What are the issues with the PD mine?Phelps Dodge plans "voluntary program"—
calendar of events
Duval/Sierrita Monitor Well Data Map of monitor well sitesComposite of monitor wells at or near dam:
Sulfates/Regulated chemicals/Radioactive chemicals
Mill area monitor wells
Tucson Star: Phelps Dodge to reduce sulfate pollution
Asarco faces $1.3 Billion in Environment Clean-Up Claims
Phelps Dodge buys Planet Ranch from Scottsdale
Green Valley woman makes water awareness her mission
Op-Ed in Green Valley News: Water Saga
of A professors say Microbe Barrier may cleanse polluted water
By Tucson Citizen's Brad Poole
will pay for Arsenic Treatment
of Sulfate Plume
between sulfuric acid spills & sulfate spikes
___ . ___
on situation in Green Valley
of mining in Green Valley area
Items from Green Valley News & Sun
is Phelps Dodge?
it Phelps Dodge Sierrita or Cyprus Minerals?
History in Arizona
Lobbyist in Arizona
2004 Annual Report
PD 2005 Annual Report
of PD's promises of replacement wells in Green Valley
(plus a couple of relevant historical facts)
from ADEQ & USGS
of Sulfuric Acid Spills
Waste Incidents" at Duval/Sierrita Mine site
of Leach Solution of "Incidents"
Toxic Release Inventory
data for Duval/Sierrita Mine site
Water Quality Data Data
from Wells Community Water
from Green Valley and Las Quintas Serenas Water Companies
Mining Provides Jobs?
Fewer Working Amid Boon
withdraws claim to Show Low Lake water
golden for PD bottom line
photos of Mine Tailings Ponds
Quality Permit Info for Duval/Sierrita Mine
from Mines Task Force Report: 1983
of Tailings Ponds:
on Pima/Mission mine polluting water & air
Release Inventory Hazard
a spill of something toxic)
Information on Phelps Dodge Corp. operations
of mining patents roils Crested Butte residents
Groups review fallout of court decision on Crested Butte
Dodge fined for death of birds—again
explanation of process of extracting metals from sulfide (copper) ore
on Mining in Arizona:
Release Inventory data for Mining in Arizona
Winning Investigative News Reports
scenario of mining business:
“exploitation, cronyism, and environmental
website of mining news
information to speak up
toxic metals out of the environment!
Recycle your cell phone
Our intention is to provide accurate
data and information. Every attempt has been made to do so. If anyone
finds any inaccuracy, please contact us and we will remove or correct
the data immediately.
the Santa Cruz Aquifer
Times have changed
in Arizona. Copper used to be on the top of the list for economy, providing
jobs for a few, while sending the big profits to “backers"
in New York City. Now Arizona is considered the perfect place for retirement
and winter vacations, providing a boost to the economy in many sectors.
This means we need clean air and waterSo isn't time to add "clean"
to Arizona's five "c's"? The sad fact is Arizona was ranked
the third most polluted state in 2002, principally due to hard rock mining.
Specifically in Green Valley, we face the dilemma: Are we going
to allow the local mines to continue polluting our environment, especially
our water source; thereby jeopardizing our health as well as our future
water supply?There's only one way
to stop the pollution and that is to take action. Now is the perfect time
because Duval/Sierrita mine is scheduled for its "Aquifer Protection
is an Aquifer Protection Permit?] This
means that we will have to file for a public hearing if the Permit Draft
does not meet our standards, particularly in regards to the existing toxic
plume that has been created in the aquifer. The figures for the toxic
waste being dumped at the mine site, which sits partially on public land,
are staggering. Following you will find information and links to environmental
sites that will help you in understanding the problem, so that you can
decide if you want to join in the efforts to save the Santa Cruz Aquifer.
Also see links on "Information on situation
in Green Valley" in the left column.Hard rock mining is
Arizona's top source of pollution. Metal mining accounted for 89% of pollution
reported by all industries in Arizona in 2001 even though mining comprises
only 4% of industrial facilities operating in the state (Toxics Release
Inventory, EPA 2002). It is clear where the problem lies that gives Arizona
its status as the third most polluted state in the Union!
Hard rock mining — It's the pits
are four basic problems occurring in the Santa Cruz Aquifer now:
of toxic materialssulfates and metalsfrom tailing ponds.2) Spills
of "hazardous materials"Sulfuric Acid—at mining
on site of toxic waste from the mining process, principally sulfates and
resources: High volumes of water pumped from the aquifer for leaching
pollution. Department of Water Resources keeps allocating water without
are other problems connected to mining operations:
1) Release of
toxics materials into the air.2)
Economic costs to the community.3)
Clean-up/reclamation of the site. 4)
Spoiling of landscape and aesthetic beauty of
our Green Valley.
"The System" let us down:
Protection Agency 2) Pima
Association of Governments 3) Tucson
Aquifer Management Area safe yield for 2025 4) Management
of state and public lands, including BLM 5) Arizona
State Legislators 6)
Lack of existence of a coordinating entity 7) Residents of Green Valley
needs to be done nowdetails following this outline will give insights
on the meaning of each step: 1) We want the
quality of water for the Aquifer Protection Permit to be set at the ambient
level that existed in 1985. This is the level that existed when Cyprus/Phelps
Dodge first started the Aquifer Protection Permit process in 1985, and again
in 1995--but they never qualified because they needed more and better equipment.
What was the incentive? If they did not have the Permit, they could just
keep on polluting--and increasing the toxic levels in the aquifer. (See
Community Water Co. Data.) The mining company should not be rewarded
with lower standards of water quality just because they avoided the permitting
process for ten plus years!
2) We want some
resolution for the damage already done, specifically, assistance in having
Phelps Dodge keep their promise to remedy the present mineralization problem
in the aquifer at Community Water Company's Wells 7 and 8, which they
have been aware of, and publicly acknowledged in October 2003. [See
Green Valley News Article]3) In regard
to water quality: Enact legislation to adopt as law the Environmental
Protection Agency's secondary regulations for drinking and ground water.
"EPA recommends secondary standards to water systems but does not
require systems to comply. However, states may choose to adopt them as
enforceable standards." By adopting these reasonable standards, the
levels will not reach emergency levels before an attempt is made to do
EPA secondary standards. In Arizona water is
a precious commodity. Why do we allow mines to continue to pollute it—while
we have to buy reverse osmosis filter systems that take 3 to 4 gallons
of water to produce 1 gallon. 4) In regard
to water resources: Require the mining operations to switch to CAP water
instead of taking water from the Santa Cruz Aquifer.5) Have an objective
party survey the Aquifer to determine exactly where the tailing pond plumes
areand also survey exactly where the highest levels of arsenic are
found in the aquifer. (Another issue apparently not related to mining
in our area, but appears to be Mother Nature's contribution.)6) Have mines
put water treatment plants in sites where monitoring wells show high levels
of TDS and Sulfate. We have reams of data from monitoring wells but no
one does anything. Let them pay for filtering the water instead of all
of the residents of Green Valley.
7) When there is a violation and a fine is paid, that money should
go back to the envioronment: to ADEQ to pay for their work and also to
the community that has been violated, so that they have funds to pay for
the damages. The ADEQ is under financed. For example, in Nov. 2001, they
lost money for clerical help to put the "Hazardous Material Incidents"
reports on the web. This is important information that the public and
other government departments needs to have access to.
8) Create a committee that oversees all of the operations of the
mining, so that each department provides summary information to one place.
Now, everything is divided up into different categories, for example,
toxic waste has three departments, and no one knows what's going on in
the other departments. Reports are buried in
reams of paper, making it a major chore to find any relevant information.9) Ask for an
investigation as to why the relevant information for Phelps Dodge Duval/Sierrita
Mine was left out of the recent report (Upper Santa Cruz Basin Groundwater
and Land Use Update, 2002) by Pima Association of Governments. Also the
high TDS numbers for Community Water wells were omitted from the water
you can do:
1) Inform yourself
of the situation by reading this website and its links to important environmental
information and groups.
2) Tell your
friends about the websitecomputers and people to show you how to
use them are available at our local Green Valley library. 3) Keep in touch
with the "Save the Santa Cruz Aquifer" efforts by checking this
website or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
to be notified of any meetings and public hearings. There will be some informational
meetings at the library with videos concerning hard rock mining and water
usage in Santa Cruz Basin.
4) Express your
concerns by contacting the ADEQ and your elected officials (Contact
info to act now!)We
have an opportunity to put democracy"government by the people"into
basic problems occurring in the Santa Cruz Aquifer:
We wonder why there
is such an increase of cancer and disease nowadays, but if we take time
to read the inventories of Toxic Waste released into our environment every
year, then the question no longer will exist. Toxic Chemicals in the air
and water can damage our organsparticularly liver, kidney and respiratoryand
compromise our immune system by overtaxing it, so that we do not have
our natural resistance to disease. An Environmental Protection Agency
states that hard rock mining is the country's
top source of pollution. How can gold and copper and silver
pollute the air? It's not the precious metals, as the mining process retrieves
as much of them as possible. The problem is caused by the other non-useable
metals and chemicals, such as lead, manganese, cadmium, which were in
the rocks along with the precious metals, that are dumped at the mining
site to leach into the soilor take a ride on the wind. In addition,
non-potable chemicals are used to leach the metals from the milled dust,
so more chemicals are produced in the leaching process to remove the metals.
See Information Resources to obtain a free
CD-ROM from EPA on hard rock mining.
of toxic materialssulfates and heavy metalsfrom tailing ponds.
silver and copper are no longer lying around on the ground and in rivers
waiting to be picked up or panned. The days of following a rich vein to
extract ore with high percentages of desirable metals have faded. Mining
is now dependent on heavy mechanical technologiesit's a dirty business.
Mammoth diggers and trucks dig up holes in the ground up to 3 miles wide
and almost as deep. The rock that is considered useable—sulfide
rock in this area, which is .2% cooper is taken to the mill to be
crushed to dust, then the dust is put into a solution with toxic chemicals
to separate out desired copper and molybdenum, using large amounts of
water. The slurry with its toxic chemicals (VOC's)
and heavy inorganic metals that are primary contaminants are then put
in unlined tailings impoundments and left to seep into the groundwater.
See Data from Community
Water Co. Wells.
News & Sun
with permission of Green Valley News & Sun
Tailings Pond: An Ocean3,500 acresof waste slurry
of "hazardous materials" on site.
There are intermittent spills of toxic materials on site. See
Sulfuric Acid Spills. These "incidents" are a major concern.
They usually result from the breaking of a pipeline or a pressure gauge
malfunction, so actual volume is difficult to measure. When the TDS and
sulfate data is correlated with the spills of sulfuric leaching solution
at Duval/Sierrita site, it appears that the spills do cause an immediate
and toxic response in all of the Community Water wells. See
Community Water Well Testing Data. The risk of large toxic spills
is a continual danger in our area. See
Leach Solution Ponds data. The time from the spills to the impact
at CWC Well No. 8 has been determined, thus confirming that the sulfuric
acid from spills and any other toxic chemical is entering the groundwater
and impacting the public water wells. See
Spikes at CWC Well #8.
Dumping of toxic waste, principally sulfides and toxic metals,
On-Site Toxic Releases" reports that toxic waste dumped into
leaching ponds and on site (ground or dams) are released into the air.
Over 328 million pounds of toxic waste was released in the state of Arizona
in just one year (2002)! Seven of the top 10 polluters were mines. In
1998 the Cyprus Miami Copper Mine in Arizona released twice as much toxic
waste (123 million pounds) as all of the waste released in New York State
(60 million pounds). In 2001 Arizona's
mining industry released 36 types of toxic chemicals to land, air, and
water, led by copper compounds at 416 million pounds. Lead ranked fifth
in prevalence in mining waste at 9 million pounds while arsenic ranked
sixth at 2 million pounds. Other toxins released by the mining industry
included mercury and cadmium. The numbers get worse each yearespecially
now that the price of copper has gone up due to the demand for it in China.
Water UsageHas anyone noticed that we are living on a desert?
wonderful gift of nature, the major source of water in dry, arid Arizona
is natural underground water. Phelps Dodge uses
23,682 acre feet annually (ten year average), whereas Asarco
uses 11,485 acre feet annually (ten year average). Compare the numbers:
residents in Green Valley, Sahuarita and environs
combined use 3,600 acre feet of water annually. Already, there
has had to be installed a recharge plant at Pima Mine Road. (Who paid
for it? A combination of CAP and Tucson city water usersto ensure
water for their future.)The largest part of
the water usage is due to an effort to keep the chemicals that are leaching
from the tailing ponds from running down the hill to the aquifer. "Interceptor
wells" are dug to catch the seepage and water is pumped through these
wells to create a force that draws the seepage into the pumped water.
In an effort to conserve water, the mines do reuse this water until it
is toxic sludge, then it goes into the tailings pond to seep back into
the ground water. Is some logic missing here?
So the bottom line is the mining operations use tons of water, which they
turn in to toxic sludge.... which seeps back into our groundwater and
problems caused by over-usage of underground water supply
from the problem of water usage in the desert, there is also the issue
of a phenomenon called "subsidence." Subsidence occurs when
the ground water gets too low, causing the muds, clays and gravels that
make up the aquifer to dry and compact. Even the land level can start
sinking causing large cracks in earthand homes. The actual underground
flow of water extends several miles in each direction from the actual
Santa Cruz river bed. So the Santa Cruz Aquifer ranges from 4 to 15 miles
across. Guess what! Green Valley is directly over the Santa Cruz Aquifer,
and so is downtown Tucson! Subsidence is a major problem in many areas
of the West. See U.S.
Geological Report on subsidence from ground-water pumping.
When water is withdrawn from the general water
table, it can lower the water, or "drawdown" water levels in
surrounding areas. Amazingly, this area of Arizona is endowed with a layer
of ground water aside from the flowing water considered to be the aquifer.
When the mining pits reach ground water level, the pits have to be pumped
dry to facilitate operations. The pit at Duval/Sierrita has reached the
water table, so water is regularly pumped from the pit. This continual
effort to keep the ground water at a lower level can draw down the levels
in wells or any surface water in the area. This "dewatering"
practice also causes a problem when the pits are abandoned. See
the Reclamation information below.There
are other problems connected to mining operations:
Release of toxic materials into the air. . .
Through smelting of molybdenum, blowing of materials from
toxic waste dumps, and evaporation of leaching materials from tailing
pond. For any brave souls who have time there
is extensive information on the air quality issue. See Technical
Review and Evaluation of Application for Air Quality Permit. The
bottom line is that Phelps Dodge obtained their "air quality"
permit in 2002 (good for four years) for Duval/Sierrita, even though it
is the second highest polluter of air in Pima County. Asarco
Mission Mine leads the list. A rep at ADEQ patiently explained to me that
the permit means that the pollution the mines create has certain limits!
and enter your zip code.
Economic costs to the community.
The household costs are continual
to many residents of Green Valley due to trying to manage the effects
of having hard water twice the definition of water hardness. Hard water
is defined as 12 to 15 grains/gallon, whereas some readings are as high
as 33 grains/gallon. This means we have had to purchase water purifiers,
harsh products to clean the lime rings, and replace our appliances that
use water more often than predicted life.The Community Water
Co. has to replace one of the wells (and needs to replace two) that was
unfortunately engulfed by the tailings sulfate plume. The cost to the
member-owned company could be up to one million dollars. At the present
level of sulfate, it is impossible to install the arsenic treatment mandated
The Community Water Co. is paying hundreds of thousands (over a million)
for CAP water allocations because they are afraid the water supply will
not last due to the heavy useage by Phelps Dodge.
It has to be considered if Pima Rd. recharge plant was constructed because
of the heavy usage of water by Pima/Mission and Duval/Sierrita mines.
Anyone want to do the math on this one?
call clean-up "restoration." This is a gross misconception.
The pits are left to become toxic water lakes. The tailings ponds are
left to evaporate (assuming it doesn't rain). We have two good examples:
Ajo and Bisbee. Both are closed, yet they look the same as they did when
in full operation. (By the way the Ajo tailings pond dam was once the
largest dam in the worldholding millions of gallons of toxic sludge.)
Clean-up when and if the copper runs out, it may not happen soon, so those
dams will get higher and higher. (How tall will they grow?) But when the
mine does close and have to clean up its mess... what happens? The dams
will stay there, the ocean of toxic waste with its dam walls will remain
in place. At best, a layer of stones will be placed over the white powdery
waste (when the water finally evaporates) to prevent the flying of toxic
dust on windy days. See more
on "reclamation." Check
out what happened recently at a closed copper mine in Nevada.
Another problem is called "dewatering." When the mines have
been pumping water out of the pit, the pit will naturally fill-up when
the pit and "dewatering" is abandoned. Nevada has been the victim
of this phenomenon. The result: a toxic lake. See
more information from Great Basin Mine Watch non-profit organization.
Recreation site? What do you think?
reclamation plan for Duval/Sierrita mine,
a part of which is pictured above
Spoiling of landscape and aesthetic beauty of our valley:
We all love Green Valley. It
has a lot to offer and even though some of us have lived in New England,
we still appreciate the quiet beauty of the stark desert. There's not
a single type of terrain here that does not support some type of creature,
critter, or creepy crawler. They have all adapted in ways that are miraculous.
The diversity of plants is also worth preserving. In addition to preventing
erosion, they provide shelter and food for the desert birds and animals.
We have all forgotten that there used to be view of the Sierritas Mountains
to the westnote the hidden peaks on the photos.
site for a botanical garden? Better stilla rock garden?
Plants will surely thrive on dust of toxic metals and sulfuric acidjust
as humans do.
the System let us down. . . .
can such high numbers of toxic materials exist in the water? The numbers
have gotten out of control because of the policies of the governing agencies.
OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
have the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Protecting us? The
sad truth is when the ADEQ was formed in 1987 they opted to put the existing
mines at the bottom of their priority list, allowing them to continue
degrading groundwater and rivers unabated for some 17 years. An Aquifer
Protection Plan had actually been started in 1985 after the Mines Task
Force showed the dangers in this area of pollution by the tailings ponds.
See a historical record of how the
mines managed to avoid the stringent standards of an Aquifer Protection
Permit. What do you think? Is it just the mines who are accountable?This
waiver can even be carried through several transfers of ownership, as
in the case of the Duval/Sierrita mine. This neglect is hard to comprehend,
considering the extremely high levels of TDS, sulfate and hardness in
the monitor wells of both Duval/Sierrita and Pima/Mission mines revealed
by the comprehensive study done in the early 1980's by the Mines Task
Force, funded by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and USGS (US
Geological Survey). The results were published by PAG (Pima County Association
of Governments) in the report: "Ground-Water Monitoring in the Tucson
Copper Mining District." [Available from Pima Association of Governors:
$20] At that
time, there were records and measurements of the level of Aquifer pollution
by four local mines (two have been combined with the larger Duval/Sierrita
and Pima/Mission mines.) The task force made recommendations and asked
for compliance. However, PAG had no enforcement authority. A few years
later, the EPA and ADEQ took over, and the monitoring of the mines was
relinquished to them because they do have enforcement authority. So
you can see why it was a disappointment after nineteen years that nothing
has been done by the "authority" to correct the problem, and,
of course, the pollution has worsened.This
point is important to understand, for the current Aquifer Protection Permit
(APP) will require "prevention of further degradation of an aquifer
at a point of compliance"this includes TDS and Sulfate. We
will be asking for a return to the levels of the aquifer in 1985 when
the APP process began, rather than using the present levels of after nineteen
years of degradation. The mines can install a water treatment plant and
clean up their mess.
Legislators sided with the mining corporations instead
of the Department of Water Resources in safety of the mine tailing ponds.
details. According to water authorities,
there may be other incidences of legislative favoritism toward mines.
For example, water usage planning. However, they took the reward in March, 2005 when they decided to end the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality--because Phelps Dodge was complaining, although the legislators said they did not have to disclose which "business" was complaining. For details, see Phelps Dodge History.
ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENTS
In 1983 Pima County Association of Governments (PAG) in cooperation with Mines Task Force published a comprehensive report on the impact of the mining operations south of Tucson. This report is still used as a reference for mining pollution in the Southwest. At that time, they made certain recommendations that needed to be accomplished to protect the groundwater in the area from pollution from mining waste. Almost twenty years later, in 2002, PAG published a follow-up report to this fine study. However, the follow-up did not mention any work that had been done in monitoring or exacting any compliance with the recommendations in 1983 report. Further, although it did give Tables of water quality in the area, it omitted any Phelps Dodge data. They had requested data from Phelps Dodge, but a PD official responded that they sent in all the data regularly to ADEQ, so it was available there. However, PAG reps were not able to dig through the files and ADEQ and for some reason ADEQ did not provide the data. Additionally, someone who worked on the report told me: “I was told that they did not want to include any negative information.” One would wonder why PAG would want to skew the data of a report that was supposed to be a follow-up to a very comprehensive, straight-forward. If so, why would they go to the time and expense of making any report at all?
DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES
Surface water rights
in Arizona are first come, first serve rights, but the water right holder
is granted only the public waters for a statutorily defined beneficial
use, at a designated location. Groundwater in Arizona is governed by the
doctrine of reasonable use. Arizona has initiated two water rights adjudications
in order to quantify and prioritize all of the surface water rights and
water right claims to two of the state's river systems and sources. Groundwater
is not subject to the adjudication. Interesting, since until CAP came
into existence, the majority of water in Arizona, certainly in Tucson,
was from groundwater. One would think there would be some clear regulations.
AND STATE TRUST LANDS MANAGEMENT
Because of an
1872 mining law, individuals or corporations can stake a claim to mine
minerals on public land, sometimes termed federal land, at little or no
cost to the staker. This land is now managed by BLM. It's a serious situation
in Arizona. Look
at the statistics.
About 400 acres
of Duval/Sierrita Mine and one-fourth of the operation of the Pima/Mission
Mine fall under the Bureau of Land Management. With the exception of a
small piece of state trust land, the remainder of Duval/Sierrita is on
private land, however; much of the remainder of Pima/Mission is on "Arizona
state trust land."
OF LAND MANAGEMENT
"The BLM is responsible for managing the nation's public lands and
resources in a combination of ways, which best serves the needs of the
American people. The BLM balances recreational, commercial, scientific
and cultural interests and it strives for long-term protection of renewable
and nonrenewable resources, including range, timber, minerals, recreation,
watershed, fish and wildlife, wilderness and natural, scenic, scientific
and cultural values. It is the mission of the BLM to sustain the health,
diversity and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment
of present and future generation."The Vision:
"The BLM provides for a wide variety of users without compromising
the long-term health and diversity of the land and without sacrificing
natural, cultural and historical resource values. We are committed to
using the best scientific information to make decisions, in collaboration
with other agencies, states, tribal governments and the public. We work
to understand the needs of rural and urban publics, and we are committed
to recovering a fair return for the use of publicly owned resources for
the American taxpayers." Has
BLM lived up to their mission and vision in Green Valley?
What do you think when you look toward the west and see the rising dams
of toxic materials. Yes, this sludge contains sulfides as well as other
toxic metals and leaching chemicals. That is why not even a weed dare
dig its root into the arid slopes. True, there are some scrubs growing
on some of the old dams at Asarco. This indicates that the toxic materials
have leached down further into the soil. However, one must take into account
the chaos that the BLM inherited when they took over the authority of
the Federal Lands in 1975. Until then, an individual only had to file
with the county to stake a mineral claim on Federal Land. The reality
of hard rocking mining with its pits piles and dust was well ensconced
into the landscape.ARIZONA
STATE TRUST LAND
The same situation exists with the Arizona Land Department, which was
created to collect revenue to fund public projects, particularly schools.
"To manage State
Trust lands and resources to enhance value and optimize economic return
for the Trust beneficiaries, consistent with sound stewardship, conservation,
and business management principles supporting socioeconomic goals for
citizens here today and generations to come. To manage and provide support
for resource conservation programs for the well-being of the public and
the State's natural environment."
LACK OF EXISTENCE OF
A COORDINATING ENTITY
is no coordinating entity, there is no resort to a clear picture of the
whole scene. According to ADEQ/EPA policy, the mines have to get separate
permits for air and water. Neither department knows anything about the
other and does not want to know: "It's just too much." Then
there is the "hazardous material incidents" department, and
the wastewater department. None of them know what is going on in the other
department. Doesn't it make sense that the people in the Hazardous Material
Incidents department notify the Aquifer Protection people of a spill of
sulfuric acid? What about the water companies down hill? Then there is
the Water Resource Department, which grants the usage of water. This is
another issuethe mines require a lot of water to process the ore,
which is then contaminated, put into tailing ponds until it evaporates
into the air or seeps back into the ground water. In the early 1980's
PAG was doing a marvelous job of reporting the problem, although they
had no enforcement authority. They backed out of the ground water issue
to such an extent that in their 2002 water quality report they purposely
did not include any "negative data." That 's now ADEQ's job.
If so, why did PAG bother to print a report on water quality when it eliminated
the greatest offender?Certainly, there is
no agency that is going to take into consideration the economic cost to
the residents of Green Valley who have to purchase water softeners, water
purifiers, and replace their appliances that use water more often. Do
Green Valley water companies have to replace wells more often? Community
Water Company has to replace a well now due to the high sulfate level.
Water treatment has to be more intensive because of the harsh products
that are necessary to clean our clothes, dishes and hard water deposits,
such as detergents with phosphates, Lime-away, etc. In an environment
that encourages water conservation, we have to install reverse osmosis
filters that use 4 gallons of water to make 1 gallon.
must be effects on our general health from breathing toxic air and drinking
contaminated water. However, again, the level of each individual contaminant
is measured by EPA reports without ever looking at the effects of the
whole of the contaminants. The definition of hard water; 12 to 15 grs/gal
is considered hard, where Wells #7 and #8 have over 30 grs/gal. Both the
Sulfate level and TDS (total dissolved solids) are twice the recommended
value. No one ever considers the effect of the sum total of these contaminants
that have been added to our water. In addition, we have to factor breathing
some heavy duty pollutants in the air. Who is willing to do the math?
RESIDENTS OF GREEN
Yes, we residents,
whether full or part-time, are at fault too because of our "there's
nothing we can do" attitude. We have seen those dams rising, we have
seen the white dust on our furniture and cars, we have seen the water
getting harder and harder in our homesyet we ignored the reality.
If we want to preserve our carefree life style,
we have to get off the golf courses, off the dance floor, and out of the
swimming pool and do something. If we don't do it now, we are going to
lose our paradise because of pollution and water shortage. There's
no one going to do it for us. The prevalent attitude is "We don't
want to do anything to disturb the mining company operations." I
venture: "Why not?" Their waste came right into our homes and
disturbed our livesour health, finances, and eventually will affect
our property values.
are some alternatives?
New technology is
Report on copper mining in Florence, Arizona.
is also for "change"
time for some changes in Arizona and we will not get them unless we ask!