Arsenic and lead detected in the Sonora river water, says Cofepris


Hermosillo, Sonora. The Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris) confirmed that the water for human consumption that is distributed in the seven municipalities bordering the Sonora River, where Grupo México has spilled toxic waste, is still contaminated with arsenic and lead, which puts in risk the health of more than 25 thousand inhabitants of that region.

In a letter sent to the Río Sonora Basin Committees, Cofepris revealed that, in the samplings carried out last March, 98 percent of the 59 wells and private homes studied exceed the limits for arsenic and 35 percent exceed those for lead, according to the Official Mexican Standard (NOM-127-SSA1-1994, modified 2000).

Meanwhile, in last July’s examination it was revealed that, of 69 samples between wells and private homes, including two in Hermosillo, they have 89 percent arsenic and 57 percent lead; in other words, water pollution has been increasing in that region of Sonora.

Affected residents pointed out that is due to the unstoppable production of the Germán Larrea Mota mining consortium that on August 6, 2104, spilled 40 million liters of toxic waste, and to date, the remediation and clinical studies of the population are still pending, leaving no drinking water and putting at risk the main economic activity: the manufacture and sale of regional products.

José Manuel López, a resident of San José de Baviácora, claimed that despite the alarming figures and after the visit of the Cofepris authorities, the State Commission for Protection Against Sanitary Risks of the State of Sonora (Coesprisson), the National Commission del Agua (Conagua) and those of the seven municipalities, still do not give an immediate solution to this health emergency. “While they make plans, new samples, and wash their hands between institutions, our lives are running out. The government is letting us die by poisoning”, he said.

José Alonso Novelo Baeza, head of Cofepris, detailed in his document that municipal and Conagua authorities were notified of the risk in which the population is, even the Cuenca committees sent a letter to the Undersecretary of Health, Hugo López-Gatell, where they explain the problem that reduces the health of its inhabitants.

“According to the Water Quality Guidelines of the World Health Organization, exposure to some pathogens and chemical elements through the use and consumption of water for human consumption can cause serious diseases, for which the presence of contaminants and its use and human consumption in concentrations higher than the maximum permissible limits represent a risk to the health of the population ”, Novelo Baeza mentioned in his letter.

Conagua denies the existence of heavy metals

Although the Federation assures that Conagua was notified to carry out necessary and immediate actions, the Northwest Basin Agency of Conagua itself affirmed that it has other data, which it said could change due to the methodology and laboratories used by the Cofepris, which, he noted, are not certified. She even assured that she is willing to compare the results with clinical studies of water quality.

Homey Bon Santoyo, technical deputy director of Conagua Noroeste, assured that the agency under his charge has carried out frequent samplings in 31 wells and 33 surface water points; He refuted that the last one took place last week and said that heavy metal levels are within the margins established by the NOM.

We received the same information from the Coesprisson, and we responded to them that they would give us the coordinates of the sources where to monitor to compare them with our data, but unlike these agencies, the Conagua attends these cases in laboratories certified by the Society Mexicana de Certification, said the official.

On December 18 of last year, for the first and only time, a delegation of federal officials from the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador met with around two hundred affected people from the municipalities of Arizpe, Banámichi, Huépac, San Felipe, Aconchi, Baviácora, Ures and Hermosillo at the Jesús Choby Ochoa theater, in the town of Ures, to hold an informative meeting in which the existence of heavy metals and the prompt repair of the damage were reported.

Through the Sonora River Basin Committees, the inhabitants began a legal fight that today includes 14 open lawsuits against the company of the second richest man in Mexico, Germán Larrea Mota, whom they sued for ecocide and violation of human rights to water, to health, and a healthy environment.

Source: La Jornada

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