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Mexico environmental agency sues copper mining company over spill

[JURIST] The Mexican Attorney General for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) [official website] on Monday filed a criminal complaint [text, press release, in Spanish] against copper mining companies Buena Vista del Cobre, SA de CV and Minera Mexico following a massive acid spill on August 6 near the US border with Mexico. The spill has affected drinking water for thousands of people in the region, forcing schools to shut down. The complaint alleges that the companies violated Article 414 of the Federal Penal Code [text, PDF]. Authorities believe the spill was caused by defects in newly constructed leaching ponds, which hold the overflow of acids used to separate metal from crushed rock.

Mexico has been involved in numerous lawsuits following the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The extensive regional economic fallout [JURIST backgrounder] along the Gulf of Mexico states has split several courts on the issue of where to draw the line in acceptable damage claims. BP's legal troubles relating to the Deepwater Horizon spill have been continuous [JURIST op-ed] and expensive, as BP has already paid billions of dollars to settle both civil and criminal claims.

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