Company Abandons Plan for Waste Dump in Quitovac

by August 22, 2008
 

The Centro de Gestion Integral de Residuos S.A. (CEGIR) proposal to build a hazardous dump site near the O'odham sacred site of Quitovac, in Sonora, Mexico, has been defeated by O'odham and local Mexican communities.

"The attempt by CEGIR to build this toxic dump was in total violation of the Human Rights of O'odham Indigenous communities," explains a recent press statement (pdf) by the O'odham VOICE Against the WALL and the O'odham Rights Cultural and Environmental Justice Coalition. "If this dump had been built, it would have been in violation of the integral O'odham right to protect their traditional homelands and their continued responsibility to conduct their traditional way of life through ceremonies that have been held at Quitovac since time immemorial."

The proposed facility would have handled anywhere up to 45,000 tons of hazardous materials each year, ranging from asbestos and radioactive materials, to aliphatic peroxides, compressed gasses, explosives, and infectious biological wastes.

The nearby communities would have been exposed to these dangerous materials through their release into the land and air. The local community's source of water would have also become contaminated.

Aswell, the facility threatened one of the most sacred places to the O'odham People, a place that's central to their origins. "The O'odham creation story says that at Quitovac the cultural hero, I'Itoi, killed a monster that threatened to destroy the people," notes the Society for American Archaeology website. Each year the O'odham, who's lands are now divided by the U.S.-Mexico border, gather at the site for ceremonies honoring this historic event.

The waste dump would have been situated about ten kilometers away -- threatening to not only desecrate the grounds, but devastate the O'odham's culture, their traditions and their spiritual health.

Now that this disaster has been officially averted, the O'odham VOICE Against the WALL and the O'odham Rights Cultural and Environmental Justice Coalition say they will continue to monitor CEGIR and other companies attempting to invade O'odham traditional lands.

They also extend a heart-felt thanks, "to all of you, Greenaction our main advisor, and the 569 international organizations and individuals that supported our efforts to have this hazardous dump canceled. We would also especially like to thank everyone who signed our online petition. We would also like to thank the 21 original organizations that signed our letter to the Environmental and Natural Resources Department of Mexico (SEMARNAT). We would also like to give great thanks to support efforts of Jeff Hendricks of Tiamat Publications and all of Resistant Culture.

Contacts

Ofelia Rivas, O’odham VOICE Against the WALL & O’odham Rights Cultural and Environmental Justice Coalition (520) 471-3398 uyarivas@hotmail.com www.solidarity-project.org

Bradley Angel, Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice (415)248-5010 greenaction@greenaction.org www.greenaction.org