Quantcast
Connect with us

EPA officials say Animas River water safe to drink again after toxic spill

Published

on

EPA says water quality data shows Animas River water in La Plata County is back to normal but impact of heavy metal load in river sediment could last years

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy said late Wednesday that data shows water quality in one affected Colorado county has “returned to pre-event conditions” following a toxic mining spill in the Animas River.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Colorado department of public health and environment also said on Wednesday that people in the city of Durango can now drink water from the Animas River.

The EPA caused the spill of acidic and heavy metal-laden mining wastewater Wednesday while investigating the inactive Gold King gold mine near Silverton, Colorado.

“We have water quality data from August 7, 8 and 9 from La Plata County that show levels have returned to pre-event conditions,” McCarthy said at a news conference in Durango.

But La Plata County, which includes Durango, is just one small part of the land mass affected by the toxic plume, which initially tested for high levels of lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals. One week after the spill, the plume had flowed into the San Juan River, and has closed waterways flowing through Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and the Navajo Nation.

ADVERTISEMENT

The EPA’s investigation was meant to remediate the site as part of a project on the nearby Red and Bonita mine.

The headwaters of the Animas River, primarily Cement Creek where the EPA spilled the slurry, have been known to be polluted for years and don’t support aquatic life. There, some toxic acid mine waste has been leaching into tributaries of the Animas for decades.

But the sheer volume and color of the waste leached Wednesday made the spill remarkable.

ADVERTISEMENT

The EPA initially estimated that 1m gallons of the toxic orange-brown sludge with the acidity of beer had spilled into the Animas River, but four days later upped that estimate to 3m gallons of fluorescent waste.

McCarthy said there is a “hiatus” on similar investigations at mines across the US until officials determine the cause of the spill. The EPA is conducting an internal investigation and said it is expecting an independent inquiry.

Even after the shocking orange-colored initial plume abated, hundreds of gallons of acidic mining wastewater continued to spill every minute. Settling ponds are now capturing water spilling out of the mine, an effort by the EPA to treat the waste before it is released into Cement Creek.

ADVERTISEMENT

Information on the spill’s impacts on human and environmental health, however, have been sparse, as the EPA waits for analysis of the heavy metal load in both the water column and sediment. Generally, heavy metal loads in the water column are considered less harmful than those in sediment, which can persist for years and be disturbed by natural events such as spring melt.

The EPA’s response to the disaster has been widely criticized by local environmentalists. Many have said the data released by the agency are incomplete without comparisons to historical data or other context and interpretation about what its impacts could be, and that the EPA waited too long to respond to the disaster.

Pressures to reopen the waterways are also beginning to mount as the color of the Animas begins to return to normal, local environmentalists say, and as businesses along the Animas suffer tourist season losses.

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

Will Trump peacefully vacate the Oval Office if he loses the presidential election in 2020? A lesson from 1800

Published

on

As primary season heats up in the United States, the Democrats are anxiously debating the best path to unseat Donald Trump in 2020. But the question of how to beat Trump is perhaps less urgent than the issue of whether he will accept defeat.

Trump has already questioned his loss of the 2016 popular vote with baseless accusations of voter fraud. He has also repeatedly toyed with the idea of extending his presidency beyond the eight-year limit enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, even trumpeting Jerry Falwell Jr.’s assertion that his first term be extended by two years to compensate for the Russia investigation. Perhaps most ominously, Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen warned while testifying before the House Oversight Committee in February 2019:

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Something is killing galaxies — and science is on the case

Published

on

In the most extreme regions of the universe, galaxies are being killed. Their star formation is being shut down and astronomers want to know why.

The first ever Canadian-led large project on one of the world’s leading telescopes is hoping to do just that. The new program, called the Virgo Environment Traced in Carbon Monoxide survey (VERTICO), is investigating, in brilliant detail, how galaxies are killed by their environment.

As VERTICO’s principal investigator, I lead a team of 30 experts that are using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) to map the molecular hydrogen gas, the fuel from which new stars are made, at high resolution across 51 galaxies in our nearest galaxy cluster, called the Virgo Cluster.

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

Trudeau in blackface: A symptom of Canada’s widespread anti-Black racism

Published

on

The news that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau performed in blackface when he was a student and a teacher has once again made blackface the topic of the day — this time in the middle of a Canadian election campaign.

The revelation that, as a 29-year-old teacher, Trudeau appeared in blackface at an “Arabian Nights” fundraiser at his school has made news around the world. Other images subsequently surfaced that showed a young Trudeau performing in blackface at high school talent shows.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Investigate and Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image