- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

CANANEA, Mexico (AP) — Authorities in a northern Mexican state issued a binational alert Monday after contaminants from a copper mine spilled into a river that flows into the U.S. state of Arizona.

Carlos Jesus Arias, director of the Sonora state civil protection agency, said the contamination from the Buenavista del Cobre mine in Cananea had reached the San Pedro River.

Officials have not said how much leaked, or what exactly was in the spill. Arias said the contents had not yet been analyzed, but the material is “probably toxic.”

The office of the Federal Attorney General for Environmental Protection said the spill contained rainwater overflow containing ferrous elements below the threshold of what would pose a human health risk to human health. Authorities were analyzing whether it could contain heavy metals or other contaminants such as arsenic.

The binational International Boundary and Water Commission was alerted as a precautionary measure. Civil protection officials urged residents and ranchers to avoid the water.

The Buenavista del Cobre mine, owned by Grupo Mexico, produces about 200,000 tons of copper each year.

The mine issued a statement Sunday saying storm water overflow linked to heavy rains from Hurricane Odile had caused mine water to leach into some creeks and streams.

Earlier this month, Grupo Mexico agreed to set up a $151 million trust to pay for damage when 10 million gallons of contaminants including copper sulfate and heavy metals spilled from the same mine into two rivers.

Officials accused the company of lying about the cause of the Aug. 7 spill and what it did to try to contain it.

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