The Argentine Federal Police found Tuesday that Canadian mining company Barrick Gold had contaminated five rivers in the western province of San Juan, Argentina, when a cyanide spill occurred in September at its Veladero mine, located some 1,150 kilometers east (700 miles) of Buenos Aires.
The police experts informed they had found toxic heavy metals in the rivers Potrerillos, Jachal, Blanco, Palca and Las Taguas, and concluded that there had been a “definite case of law infringement” of the country's legislation on the proper handling of hazardous substances.
Cyanide was found in particularly high quantities in all the liquid and solid samples examined. In some cases, the levels exceeded the legal limit, according to the report issued by the Federal Police’s Department of Environmental Crimes.
Drinking water in the area was also found to have excessively high levels of salts and cobalt. The Faculty of Medicine of Buenos Aires University has been ordered to investigate whether the contaminated water presents any potential health risks.
A spokesperson for Barrick refused to comment on the report, claiming they had not seen it, according to Argentine newspaper La Nacion.