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Report: Mine opponents hope negative media reports affect plans

ASHLAND, WI (WTAQ) - Critics of the proposed Gogebic Taconite iron ore mine say the project could be affected by media reports of possible legal action against company president Bill Williams.

A newspaper in Spain first reported on Monday that Williams was one of three executives of a Spanish mining firm facing criminal action for environmental violations in that country, dating back to 2008.  

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday that a justice ministry recently rejected an appeal from the mine's owners. As a result, new criminal action is possible for allegedly exposing local groundwater to high levels of arsenic with a new type of treatment system. 

Williams told the Journal Sentinel he was aware of the legal issue when he worked in Spain, but he has not kept up with the matter after leaving. He also said he has not been contacted by Spanish authorities or the company that employed him -- which has since been taken over by a Canadian firm. 

Ashland County Board member Charles Ortman tells the Ashland Dairy Press the ripple effect on the proposed Gogebic Taconite mine would be, "huge" as a result of the Spanish case. 

Ortman said nobody he was aware of had known about Williams' pending charges, while he was telling people they didn't have to worry about pollution due to the latest mining technology.