11:37 PM

Toxic Mining Contaminants Threaten People and Wildlife in Arizona


September 26, 2014

Contact: Courtney Sexton, 202.772.0253, csexton@defenders.org, Wendy Russell, 520.477.2308, Wendy@PatagoniaAlliance.org


Toxic Mining Contaminants Threaten People and Wildlife in Arizona

TUCSON, ARIZ. – Contaminants from a mine spill in Cananea, Sonora earlier this summer have likely reached the San Pedro River flowing into Arizona. And with recent storms, old copper and silver mine sites near Patagonia are leaking bright red contaminants into local streams. These toxic reminders of our mining history have the potential to wreak havoc on local water supplies and wildlife in the Coronado National Forest, one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world.

“The Coronado National Forest, the “Sacred” Santa Ritas, the San Pedro River Valley, the Patagonias and all of the Sky Islands nourish some of the most incredible and endangered biodiversity in the world, including jaguars, ocelots, yellow-billed cuckoos and Gila topminnows,” said Eva Sargent, director of Southwest Programs for Defenders of Wildlife. “This is a place that must be conserved, not a place for the destructive practice of mining and its toxic byproducts that ruin our public landscapes and pollute our waters.”

“All this toxic runoff is a prime example of why new mines should not be approved in the mountains of southern Arizona,” added Wendy Russell of the Patagonia Area Resource Alliance. “There are already approximately 130 abandoned mines in the Patagonia Mountains, many with eroding tailings and leaking tunnels discharging toxins. With heavy rainfall, that toxic discharge overflows into water systems like Harshaw Creek and Alum Gulch in the Santa Cruz watershed and threatens both local communities’ drinking water and already endangered fish and wildlife. With the state and federal governments seemingly incapable of cleaning up old polluting mines in the Patagonia Mountains, we have no confidence in their abilities to regulate new mining activity to protect our community's drinking water, health and safety.”


Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.

The Patagonia Area Resource Alliance is a citizen watchdog organization that monitors the activities of mining companies, as well as ensures government agencies’ due diligence, to make sure their actions have long-term, sustainable benefits to our public lands, our water, and the town of Patagonia. For more information visit www.patagoniaalliance.org