State AG: Inactive mine leaking arsenic into recreational creek

Posted at 6:33 AM, Aug 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-08 12:05:53-04

The state attorney general’s office is indicting the company behind an Arizona mine for leaking arsenic into a neighboring creek.

According to court paperwork, Bagdad Hillside, LLC, owns the Hillside Mine near Bagdad. Officials say the inactive mine is letting off 5 gallons a minute, or 2.6 million gallons a year, of arsenic-contaminated water into Boulder Creek.

It and other creeks in the area are open for swimming and recreation. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality found arsenic levels in the creek to be more than 100 times the standard.

“It’s not a good thing to be exposed to,” Dr. Laura Glenn of Rejuvena Health & Aesthetics told ABC15. Exposure to arsenic through swimming could cause patchy, rough changes to skin. Ingestion or long-term exposure, however, could lead to more severe symptoms. “In cases of extreme poisoning, you can also notice fatigue, feeling sick, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,” Glenn said.

ADEQ said they’ve been trying to work with Bagdad Hillside since 2013 to stop the leak. The company reportedly agreed three separate times to file a plan to stop the leak but never did.

Listed representatives for the company did not respond to ABC15.

Caroline Oppleman, ADEQ’s public information officer, said in a statement the company has been “noncooperative.” Phone calls from the agency's director were ignored, she said.

Oppleman said they and the attorney general’s office are “pursuing all avenues” to stop the contamination.