1938 News

People kayak in the Animas River near Durango, Colo., Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in water colored from a mine waste spill. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said that a cleanup team was working with heavy equipment Wednesday to secure an entrance to the Gold King Mine. Workers instead released an estimated 1 million gallons of mine waste into Cement Creek, which flows into the Animas River. (Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT


People kayak in the Animas River near Durango, Colo., Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in water colored from a mine waste spill. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said that a cleanup team was working with heavy equipment Wednesday to secure an entrance to the Gold King Mine. Workers instead released an estimated 1 million gallons of mine waste into Cement Creek, which flows into the Animas River.
(Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP)
MANDATORY CREDIT


It turns out an environmental remediation contractor was the one at fault for contaminating the Animas River in Colorado.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Environmental Restoration LLC was contracted out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect the nearby water reservoirs. Because the Gold King Mine was being services at the time, the remediation firm was tasked with finding ways to keep pollutants out of the water.
Instead, however, approximately 3 million gallons of contaminated water spilled from the mine into the fresh water, according to the EPA.
While it was certainly not their intention, the damage has been done and now needs to be fixed. A report from the San Francisco Chronicle said that chemicals in the spill included arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury — a deadly combination with potential long-term environmental impact.
The river itself has turned a dark, murky yellow, raising concerns for the communities that utilize water from that source for drinking, irrigation, and recreation. The states of Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico, along with the Navajo Nation, were all affected by the damage caused.

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3 Responses to 1938 News

  1. shinichi says:

    EPA Tries to Undo Animas River Damage from Gold King Mine Spill

    by 1938 News

    http://1938news.com/epa-tries-to-undo-animas-river-damage-from-gold-king-mine-spill/

    The incident has become a political issue as members from both parties took the opportunity to blast the EPA response.

    “Among the most basic and simple questions that Coloradans want answered after the Gold King Mine spill are, ‘What is in the water?’ and ‘Is it safe?’” said Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado. He went on to criticize the EPA’s initial reaction as “too slow and inadequate.”

    The situation also brings questions on the ethical nature of awarding environmental contracting jobs to certain companies.

    The Wall Street Journal reported that Environmental Restoration has received more tha $380 million from federal contracts. Most of that amount ($364 million) was from the EPA directly.

  2. shinichi says:

    EPA Contractor Involved in Colorado Spill Identified as Environmental Restoration

    Fenton, Mo., company was tasked with mitigating pollutants from closed mine

    by Amy Harder, Alexandra Berzon and Jennifer S. Forsyth

    The Wall Street Journal

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/epa-contractor-involved-in-colorado-spill-identified-as-environmental-restoration-1439414672

    Missouri-based Environmental Restoration LLC was the contractor whose work caused a mine spill in Colorado that released an estimated three million gallons of toxic sludge into a major river system, according to an Environmental Protection Agency official and government documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

    The EPA, which was overseeing the servicing of the mine, had previously said an unnamed outside contractor was using heavy equipment when it accidentally triggered a breach in the abandoned Gold King Mine, letting out wastewater that had built up inside it.

    “Environmental Restoration LLC was working at the direction at EPA in consultation with the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety,” an EPA official said on Wednesday.

  3. shinichi says:

    Probe finds EPA error caused mine spill it hoped to avoid

    by Matthew Brown, Associated Press

    San Francisco Chronicle

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/science/article/APNewsBreak-EPA-mine-spill-could-have-been-6584505.php

    Government investigators squarely blamed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday for a 3 million-gallon wastewater spill from a Colorado gold mine, saying an EPA cleanup crew rushed its work and failed to consider the complex engineering involved, triggering the very blowout it hoped to avoid.

    The spill that fouled rivers in three states would have been avoided had the EPA team checked on water levels inside the Gold King Mine before digging into a collapsed and leaking mine entrance, Interior Department investigators concluded.

    The technical report on the causes of the Aug. 5 spill has implications across the United States, where similar disasters could lurk among an estimated hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines that have yet to be cleaned up. The total cost of containing this mining industry mess could top $50 billion, according to government estimates.

    The root causes of the Colorado accident began decades ago, when mining companies altered the flow of water through a series of interconnected tunnels in the extensively mined Upper Animas River watershed, the report says.

    EPA documents show its officials knew of the potential for a major blowout from the Gold King Mine near Silverton as early as June 2014. After the spill, EPA officials described the blowout as “likely inevitable” because millions of gallons of pressurized water had been bottling up inside the mine.

    The Interior report directly refutes that assertion. It says the cleanup team could have used a drill rig to bore into the mine tunnel from above, safely gauging the danger of a blowout and planning the excavation accordingly. Instead, the EPA crew, with the agreement of Colorado mining officials, assumed the mine was only partially inundated.

    “This error resulted in development of a plan to open the mine in a manner that appeared to guard against blowout, but instead led directly to the failure,” according to engineers from Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, who spent two months evaluating the accident.

    The blowout tainted rivers in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and on the Navajo Nation with dangerous heavy metals including arsenic and lead, temporarily shutting down drinking water supplies and cropland irrigation.

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