November 29, 2013 by WCMC
WCMC has obtained information from the Spanish organization pressing charges against Bill Williams, President of Gogebic Taconite (GTac), for alleged crimes perpetrated while he was director of the Cobre las Cruces copper mine in Spain. Ecologistas en Acción (Ecologists In Action) are seeking information on Williams’ current whereabouts to pass on to the Spanish court, so that he can be subpoenaed to face trial in Spain for his role in pollution of an aquifer near Seville, and other environmental violations.
According to Isidoro I. Albarreal Núñez, a member of Ecologistas en Acción who is responsible for coordinating the legal actions against Cobre Las Cruces, “In April 2008, there was a massive collapse of the slopes of the mine, for which Bill Williams was directly responsible. This collapse was predicted several years earlier (since 2002, before construction of the mine began) in several reports from CEDEX, a technical unit of the Spanish government, because the design of the slopes of the mine wasn’t safe. CEDEX indicated that it was necessary to modify this slope design to safer parameters.”
Núñez says that when Williams became director of the mine, he failed to follow what was suggested in the CEDEX report. “To reduce costs during the excavation, Williams did not make the mine with the correct grade of the slope that was recommended by CEDEX and those slopes collapsed in April 2008. Williams also failed to carry out a Geotechnical Sonar Project, a condition required by mining authorities.”
Núñez holds a doctorate in Mathematics from the University of Seville and is coordinator of the mines and quarries area of Ecologists in Accion-Andalucia. He was provincial coordinator in Seville between 2005 and 2009.
Williams, holed up in his Hurley office in northern Wisconsin, responded in an AP report by saying he is not sure how these charges will affect the opening of GTac’s 22-mile open-pit mountaintop removal mine in the Penokee Hills. Wisconsin law does not deny felons permission to operate a mine, but the charges should raise the red flag at the DNR.
In more difficult news for GTac, information arose last week about evidence of GTac sharing lobbyists with the group of organizations that have been subpoenaed in the latest John Doe investigation. An investigation has spread over five counties and is collaring election-rigging organizations that funneled Koch money into the state during the recalls. GTac, Wisconsin Republican leadership and Americans for Prosperity worked in close conjunction to make sure AB/SB1 became law. The evidence of possible collusion pushes GTac ever closer to the dragnet.
Back in Spain, on November 25th Williams and two other Cobre Las Cruces executives lost their final appeal to stop the legal proceedings. According to Núñez, Court No. 19 is waiting for the prosecutor to submit his complaints and for Ecologists in Action to add theirs before they schedule the exact date of the trial. Once the trial is scheduled, the court will summon the accused. Núñez assured WCMC that there will be a trial.
At the time of publication Williams was not available at his office and did not respond to phone calls to comment.