By John Rea —
Cottonwood AZ — Now that issues regarding the massive black slag pile in Cottonwood, AZ have risen to the surface, it behooves conscientious community members to objectively examine the relevant information available on the subject
Revelations are based on empirical scientific data including independent testing, testimonies of affected individuals and precedent setting case law pertaining to toxic contamination; all the aforementioned being willfully ignored or casually set aside to date.
On a personal note, I was a victim of environmental poisoning over 40 years ago. It was literally a cover up where a housing project was intentionally built over a toxic chemical dump from WWII. Inhabitants of all ages contracted cancers. They also developed asthma, glandular and organ dysfunction due to long-term exposure. Public officials offered neither physical remedies nor allowed legal recourse in spite of the obvious detriment to those innocent victims, some who died as a direct result of said exposure.
That historical experience being stated, I became curious about the local slag dust in Cottonwood, AZ and its effects after encountering a large accumulation at a storage facility in close proximity to the Minerals Research, Inc. mining waste processing site.
Shortly thereafter in the fall of 2022, I conversed with Rachael Collins, also a victim of contamination at the self-storage. She was a lone voice crying in the wilderness, diligently researching and single-handedly spearheading an investigation into the truth regarding the composition and detrimental health effects of slag dust.
Since I possessed first-hand knowledge from my own experience, my services were offered to compliment her investigation into improper permits, lax safety protocols and zero testing of toxicity in a reasonable radius around the refining operation site. Above all, she discovered there was no concern by city or state officials for the health and welfare of unwary community members who were breathing and ingesting the elements found within the slag dust particulates.
This dirty refining operation functioned without proper oversight every day for many years starting in 2014. Public officials passed the buck when questioned, burst into anger when confronted, denied responsibility when cornered by victims and individuals in power who ignored or intimidated anyone who questioned the already questionable narrative. There is something rotten in the WOOD of Cotton.
As a former radio host, I understand the privileges and responsibilities attached to the position of being a member of the media. The information I communicated was to expose corruption and empower the listening public with the truth to set them free from the otherwise pervasive and unchallenged lies.
The primary function of a real journalist is multifaceted; investigate, research the facts then reveal those facts to the community for the enlightenment and benefit of all. In recent articles on this subject, where are the right facts for the right reasons separating FACT from journalistic FICTION? Where is a comprehensive narrative reflecting, as opposed to rejecting the body of evidence at hand? And what about Rachael Collins who made her corroborating evidence of local contamination available in October of 2022, attempting to share it with the Verde Valley newspapers and media outlets for investigative review many times from the onset of her findings? Why hasn’t she been interviewed and quoted by the local media?
Now that the “Slag is Out of the Bag,” more people are aware of the situation but questioning what has really been happening here.
Rachael laid out thousands of dollars and invested roughly three thousand hours to bring the hazardous contamination issue into the light. Interestingly, her exhaustive research driven by her personal desire to prove the truth was ignored by the press, outright rejected by officials, then ultimately plagiarized and hijacked by two community members who wanted to be in the limelight. They are presently taking credit for exposing this environmental tragedy for their own self-serving reasons without the evidence to support their claims. They even stole evidence from Rachael Collins that precluded it being used as intended by victims needing restitution. This is a travesty of justice and damaging to the public.
The recent articles written on this subject are shallow at best, containing not one element of true human interest. Where are the personal interviews with long-term impacted victims who have been complaining for years? The general public is weary of information disseminated clinically while being divorced from the real people that have been affected physically, emotionally and financially from chronic hazardous exposure.
The “story” is never about tidbits of minutia but about human lives that are in danger from continued exposure and the people responsible for it. This is what piques interest and provokes intelligent discussion that can lead to safe and practical resolution and reparations.
Multiple council members and city employees have been resigning as did the head of Minerals Research, Inc. The new City Attorney and Manager also recently resigned after it was claimed that the City of Cottonwood was covertly accepting payments from MRI every quarter since the inception of the slag refining operation.
In addition, it was also revealed that citizen complaints of health and property damage were submitted and ignored for seven years. City Hall claimed publicly that there were no complaints.
Public officials, business executives and owners, journalists, fellow community members and environmentalists – the Slag is Out of the Bag and the DUST is flying in your direction. What are you going to do about it?
Editor’s Note : John Rea will be covering Cottonwood news as staff reporter.