February 24, 2014 by Barbara With
Gogebic Taconite (GTac) President Bill Williams, about to stand trial in Spain for crimes against the environment while overseeing operations of Cobre Las Cruces copper mine in Seville, recently claimed that the arsenic that has allegedly contaminated the aquifers of Seville was naturally occurring, and that the charges against him are baseless because they came before the mine was in operation.
On February 19, 2014, the Seville Office of the Environment formally filed written charges, similar to an indictment, against Bill Williams for crimes against the environment and criminal damage to the public domain.
According to the “Proposed Drainage Re-injection Permit Suspension” dated April 3, 2008, Bill Williams started work as Director of CLC in January 2006, and on July 7, 2006, Cobre Las Cruces began illegally extracting clean water and re-injecting wastewater back into the aquifer without the inspection certificate for the project.
Even if the trial reveals that there was no arsenic contamination, Williams won’t necessarily be cleared. According to the complaint, CLC failed to meet virtually all of the permit conditions and calls into question the very foundation of the project. It concludes that the spirit and letter of permit were ignored, that CLC failed to get authorization, and did not satisfy the majority of the conditions imposed by the permit. The hydrogeological model was not able to produce the promised results, and the company had no plan to meet the demands of the permit.
According to WCMC sources in Spain, if Williams does not voluntarily go to Spain and is not extradited, he will become a fugitive from justice with an international warrant out for his arrest. The trial will not proceed without him, so he cannot be found innocent in absentia. Even if the other defendants are tried and found innocent, the case against Williams will remain open. He likely will not be able to travel outside of the US under his own name. If he does later decide to return to Spain, he likely will face even more charges than he does now.
In a one-to-one listening session held by GTac last month, Linnea Schmid asked Williams and GTac Lobbyist Bob Seitz about the charges (see video below):
LS: Do you think the regulations in Spain were too strict?
BS: You know, I get that this is the “issue of the day”…
LS: Issue of the day? It’s big. You got to admit it’s big.
BS: What exactly is the issue of the day?
LS: Is it irrelevant? Is it relevant to you?
BS: What’s the issue?
BW: What’s the issue?
LS: The issue is arsenic in the aquifers of Spain.
BW: How’s it get there?
LS: How did it get there?
BW: It’s there naturally. It’s always there.
LS: So it was there before?
BW: How’d this thing happen?
LS: You know, I’d be interested, I’d be really interested.
BS: Do you think it came from the processing of mining materials?
LS: That’s the implication I have.
BW: Except it wasn’t even built.
BS: It occurred before the mine was started.
LS: How do you know that?
BS: Because the allegation was in 2008. The processing wasn’t operating. So…what I am saying is, I’m not trying to debate the issue, I’m trying to point out the…
LS: I don’t blame you for wanting to debate the issue…
BS: I don’t think any of us have the information.
LS: I think it’s forthcoming. I think it will be forthcoming as the indictment proceeds, don’t you?
BW: But there’s been no indictment.
BS: Then let it move forward and make a judgment when it does.
Video by David Joe Bates