May 2, 2011 a fire was started in the Greaterville area by an employee of Rosemont copper. The fire investigation should have been a straightforward short process. The president and CEO of Rosemont copper, Mr. Rod pace, admitted the fire began by a welder employed by Rosemont. From the information available that welder was working by himself during one of the worst fire seasons in Arizona’s history. The report from Rosemont copper stated that welder was working on a broken bracket at a well site, why did not the welder use the water available to pre-soak the work area. That fire consumed approximately 2200 acres before being extinguished.
I began my request for information from the United States Forest Service Law Enforcement Division and was told they could make no commentas it was an active investigation. That was five months after the fire. My next contact was Mr. Jim Upchurch, Forest supervisor of the Coronado national Forest. He referred me to the Phoenix office of the United States Attorney’s office with the comment “The case that you mentioned is at the US Attorney’s Office for review. We would not release any information concerning this case without their approval. ”
After several days of trying to contact Phoenix office, with little success, I was told by an employee that the United States Attorney’s Office could neither confirm nor deny that such a case existed. Eventually I was able to contact Mr. Manuel Turango, the Public Affairs Officer in the Phoenix United States attorney’s office. Initially his response was that he would have to give me the same response the previous employee had given me, “We can neither confirm nor deny that such a case exists.” When I informed him that I had been referred by Mr. Jim Upchurch his response was “who is Mr. Upchurch?” I told Mr. Turango he was the Forest Supervisor of the Coronado national Forest and the head of the office that submitted the case to the United States Attorney’s office. Mr. Turango Then informed me that he would have to check into it. Mr. Turango contacted me one time to inform me that he was checking it out.
That was the last contact I had with Mr. Turango despite several phone messages and e-mails.
Many of us are aware of the term Catch 22, this seems to be a fine example of Catch 22 as you can find no information from the forest service nor from the United States Attorney’s office because of the continuing investigation. It would seem to be less nefarious and suspicious if someone, anyone associated with our Federal Government simply said “Rosemont started the fire.”
The granting of the permits for the proposed open pit copper mine is contingent upon many requirements. One of those requirements is to follow and obey all relevant state and federal regulations. Is this an example of how Rosemont will follow regulations and also an example of how our federal government will treat violations, to simply ignore it and sweep it under the rug?
The wheels of justice are said to turn slowly but I would think there is a difference between turning slowly and what is happening with the investigation of the fire started on May 2 by Rosemont copper in the Greaterville area. Today marks six months since the fire and no information is available from either the United States forest service or the United States Attorney’s Office in Phoenix. The date is November 2, 2011 which makes it an extraordinary example of a slow process in our legal system.
For perspective this fire burned the equivalent in acreage of a square that would extend from Speedway to 22nd St. going north and south and from Kolb to Craycroft going East to West.