Sonora River: Massive mine spill continues to impact Sonora River Basin

It’s been more than a year since the Buenavista del Cobre copper mine, owned by mining conglomerate Grupo México, spilled 11 million gallons of toxic chemicals into the Bacanuchi and Sonora Rivers. The mine is in Cananea, a city in northern Sonora, which is also the headwaters for Arizona’s San Pedro River. The mine and authorities from the Mexican government claim the water is now clean, but people with illnesses related to heavy metals contamination continue to emerge.

Part I: Sonora River 1 year later

ArmandoEnriquez-01-webIt’s been more than a year since a toxic mine spill, dubbed as the worst environmental disaster in Mexico’s history, contaminated the Sonora River. The toxic metals reached nearly 200 miles and impacted seven municipalities. Communities are now pushing back against the mine and the government to protect their families and the lands they call home.

Part II: A community still healing

Since a toxic mine spill in 2014 impacted nearly 25,000, Mexican authorities say the Sonora River is clean. The government has identified nearly 400 people with illnesses tied directly to heavy metal contamination. As new cases continue to emerge, experts warn that the problem could be much greater than the government admits.

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Bizarre voting trends emerge again in Colorado City

PHOENIX – Hundreds of voters in Colorado City made nearly identical choices when casting ballots in the November 2014 election, continuing a bizarre trend where a block of voters didn’t choose any candidate in some races, but voted almost 100 percent for an individual candidate in others.

Republican Secretary of State Michele Reagan, the Republican slate for Corporation Commission and Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar each earned 97 percent of the vote in Colorado City. Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, also Republicans, each earned 95 percent of the vote.

When it came to picking a state senator or retaining Arizona Supreme Court justices, Colorado City voters – by the hundreds – didn’t cast a vote. And in the races for attorney general and the Arizona House, about 200 people who otherwise voted Republican up and down the ticket cast ballots for particular Democrats.

1st quarter congressional campaign filings

By Andrew Long, Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting The first campaign finance reports of 2013 have been filed with the Federal Election Commission. Arizona’s incumbents raised about $1.4 million in receipts for the first quarter of the year. Democrat...


Federal report recommends overhaul of U.S. chemical safety oversight

A federal task force identified sweeping shortfalls in the oversight of hazardous materials in the U.S., showing that short and long-term challenges exist to protect communities from the toxic and explosive chemicals stored at facilities across the nation and in Arizona.

U.S. oversight of ammonium nitrate insufficient, GAO says

Government agencies across the U.S. can’t regulate ammonium nitrate, the hazardous chemical compound that detonated in West, Texas, killing 15 people and injuring hundreds more, a congressional investigation has found. Emergency management agencies at the local, state and federal levels don’t know how many facilities in the U.S. store the hazardous chemical. A patchwork of outdated regulations, lack of communication between agencies, and a series of exemptions exist for reporting storage of ammonium nitrate, the U.S. Government Accountability Office report stated, which was publicly released May 21. These findings mirror a recent AZCIR and ABC15 investigation into Arizona oversight of ammonium nitrate.



Lobbying records only disclose recipient for $1 out of every $8 spent

PHOENIX — Less than 14 percent of the roughly $333,000 spent to lobby Arizona lawmakers in the first half of 2015 identified who the money was spent on, continuing a trend of scant disclosure going back years.

Since 2010, the portion of lobbying records that include beneficiaries has averaged about 12.5 percent. This is according to data maintained by the Secretary of State’s office and includes lobbying records for the first half of each year, which typically includes Arizona’s annual legislative session.

For 2015, lobbying records include a beneficiary for $1 out of every $8 spent, an analysis of the Secretary of State’s lobbying database by the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting shows.

Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting
P.O. Box 3665
Phoenix, AZ 85030-3665