The EPA has claimed responsibility for the disaster and is working to address the crisis, but the organization is continuing to receive backlash.
The Animas River flows through the center of Durango on August 7, 2015.
“I can say that a very, very conservative estimate”, says Erica Gaddis, assistant director in the Utah Division of Water Quality, “if we assume all of the spill made it into Utah, it would represent less than one percent of the flow of the San Juan River”. “That is science that needs to continue”.
In a release from the New Mexico Environment Department, state engineer Tom Blaine pulled no punches, saying, “Despite the fact that EPA did not notify New Mexico directly and took no action to alert New Mexicans to the potential danger, we took steps to ensure the protection of our water users in the area”. And if so, it will focus on neglect and criminal activity by EPA staff and contractors. Blinzler claims he was fined $7,000 by the EPA in recent years after dirt was running into the street during a home building project.
The EPA revealed the firm’s involvement as its chief, Gina McCarthy, toured the polluted river.
In less than 20 years, Fenton-based Environmental Restoration LLC has quietly built itself into one of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s go-to guys for big, emergency cleanups. “This is the anguish I’m going through as an elected representative is the denial of information”.
“Oh my God! Look at the lead!” said Joseph Landolph, a toxicologist at the University of Southern California, after looking at the amount of lead in the Animas River, which was almost 12,000 times higher than the acceptable level set by the EPA.
The EPA has faced plenty of fire after causing the spill last Wednesday when a team evaluating water releases at an abandoned mine and assessing future clean-up accidentally triggered the release of 3 million gallons of mining waste while excavating loose material at the mine entrance.
The photos of the yellow-orange river were widely shared and have brought attention to a longstanding challenge that many were unaware of: how to regulate, treat and pay for the upkeep of abandoned and dormant mines in Colorado and across the country.
The spill happened as an EPA-supervised crew inspected a horizontal passageway into the partially collapsed and leaking Gold King mine.
Despite the river returning back to its normal appearance, local authorities are waiting on the EPA to test the water and determine if the river is safe for human activities.
She said the EPA will deal with the sediment problem over the long term but offered no specifics.
McCarthy also suggested that anyone who comes in physical contact with any mining spill waste should wash and rinse the waste off.
Residents are advised to not follow the governor’s lead, however, as the water was considered unsafe to drink even before the spill, according to the Durango Herald. He has worked on EPA-funded projects and said the agency’s results must stand up in court, so it takes multiple test samples over time, and then subjects the results to more reviews.
“My guess is that recreation use will be opened up fairly quickly”.
The spill of toxic wastewater from an abandoned gold mine high in Colorado’s San Juan mountains caused untold millions in economic disruptions and damages in three states – to rafting companies, Native American farmers unable to irrigate, municipal water systems, and possibly water well owners. The New Mexico Environment Department has also been testing. A spokesperson told News 13 Thursday that there is no timeline on when that could happen, but they say they’re encouraged by preliminary results.