American Elephants

Massive Toxic Spill Desecrates Pristine Wilderness.The Negligent Party Will Probably Get Off With an Oops! by The Elephant's Child


A million-gallon toxic-waste spill sent a huge plume of orange muck down the Animas River in southwest Colorado on Thursday was caused by the EPA’s very own cleanup crew which was working with heavy equipment to secure an entrance to the Gold King Mine.

Workers, instead managed to release an estimated one million gallons of mine waste into Cement reek, which runs into the Animas River, which in turn flows into the San Juan River in New Mexico and joins the Colorado River in Utah, which flows through the Grand Canyon, and eventually provides water for drought-stricken California. Why before you know it the muck would reach some of the “navigable waters” which the EPA is charged with protecting under the Clean Waters Act. For Shame!

The wastewater released contains heavy metals including lead, arsenic, cadmium, and aluminum. Newsweek reported that the orange color was reminiscent of cheap mac and cheese.

Were anyone else to so pollute the “navigable waters of the United States of America” the EPA would be fining them umpty-ump million dollars a day, and taking away all their toys.

Officials emphasized that there was no threat to drinking water from the spill. But downstream water agencies were warned to avoid Animas water until the plume passes, said David Ostrander, director of EPA’s emergency response program in Denver….The acidic sludge is made of heavy metal and soil, which could irritate the skin, he said….

The plume made its way to Durango on Thursday afternoon, prompting La Plata County health officials to warn rafters and others to avoid the water. The scenic waterway was the backdrop for parts of the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and is popular with summer boaters.

Durango stopped pumping water out of the Animas River on Wednesday to make sure none of the waste could be sucked up into the city reservoir. It also suspended the transfers of raw water to a local golf course and Fort Lewis College. Pet owners were advised to keep dogs and livestock out of the Animas.

There’s a scenic railway out of Durango, with wonderful old steam trains with cinders flying. The tourists will be in for a surprise!  Orange muck. Totally Gross!


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

That suggestion has been made. Whether it has any basis remains up in the air. Officially these were EPA hired contractors, it was an accident with heavy equipment. There was a letter to the editor of the Silverton, Colorado newspaper a week or more ago from a retired geologist that suggested something more purposeful, and a woman from some anti-mining NGO chimed in. There just isn’t any real information yet. Don’t know how toxic, someone said the metals may sink to the bottom and be a long-term hazard. All simply speculation and not serious information. The Navajos experienced something similar a number of years ago and are sensitive, and also very dependent on river water. Sounds like they are trucking in clean water. The EPA has been a bullying agency, throwing its weight around, assessing huge and unreasonable fines, and no one expects them to behave well, and generally don’t wish the agency well.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

I still don’t understand why they failed to radio ahead and dynamite Cement Creek as soon as they noticed the flow. Or for that matter, in the 7 days since this happened- stop the flow of any downstream river *before* it hits the Colorado!


Comment by Theodore M Seeber

[…] contains information on many of the regulations that the courts threw out, or for example, the massive yellow toxic spill of mine waste from the Gold King mine into the Animas River in Colorado which flowed into the San […]


Pingback by A $300,000 Climate Change Museum? | American Elephants

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: