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Mar 20, 2013 9:15 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Green Valley residents concerned about mine run-off

GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. - Folks living less than a mile away from a Freeport McMoRan are worried about potential fallout stemming from drilling in Green Valley last week that sent run-off coursing through neighborhoods.

A spokesman with the mine admits that they never meant for that to happen and say the "drilling mix" is a non-toxic substance made up of bentonite and hydro-treated light petroleum distillate.

However, that's not stopping folks in the area from worrying about the potential impacts on their community.

Jim Chisholm has lived near the mine for the past ten years. He said it's a pretty rare sight to see the wash next to his house flow.

"I came out of my house and it was a perfectly clear day... it had been clear for days... and I could hear this rush of water," Chisholm told News 4 Tucson.

Unlike rainwater, Chisholm said the creekbed that runs through his yard just couldn't absorb the run-off.

"[It] was sort of greyish-brown color as it was coming down... nothing like the normal flow you see in the arroyo," Chisholm said.

What's more, Chisholm said, the water took several days to absorb or dry up from evaporation.

Engineers from Freeport-McMoRan visited Chisholm's house to address the unforeseen problem.

A spokesman with the mine told News 4 Tucson in a statement: "We are going to take steps to ensure that the situation is remedied. We will flush the arroyo with sufficient quantity of water to dilute and dissipate the drilling mud so that it is no longer coating the surface of the arroyo. Residents nearby will be notified in advance of this action."

Still, Chisholm is skeptical that'll do the trick because he said the clay prevents the arroyo from absorbing the water. He especially worries about the potential for standing water and the dangers that come with it.

"Puddling water can cause mosquito problems and things like that, so I have some concerns in that area... and what the effect is on the plant life in the are that depends on the water that does flow," Chisholm said.

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