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As EPA Mine Waste Spill Keeps Flowing, Warnings Grow Over Long-Term Risks


As EPA Mine Waste Spill Keeps Flowing, Warnings Grow Over Long-Term Risks

Nadia Prupis, staff writer

There will be no easy cleanup of the spill that sent millions of gallons of toxic mine waste into a Colorado waterway last week and has now contaminated rivers in three neighboring states—and it could take years to calculate the full damage of the accident, including risks to public health, experts warn.


We killed or drove the native people from the land, despoiled and plundered it, and abandoned it when further rape was no longer rewarded. The spoils were concentrated by the “clever” who benefited by the sacrifices of all those “below” them. Over humanity’s history those at the top have been called kings, popes, bankers, czars and many other monikers. No matter what they were called, they all did essentially the same things. Pacha Mama has been trying to tell us to stop for quite some time. Her urgency is accelerating. Will we listen?


This is the perfect example of how unregulated industry works and who pays for it and we continue to hear"let corporations monitor themselves".


They did not ruin the river - a Google Earth visit to the area shows that the reach below the mine and well downstream from Silverton had been badly acid-impacted and mostly dead for a while. They tried to get this area listed as a side eligible for superfund money - but the local tourist businesses loudly protested. The EPA could have done nothing, and the problem would have been just as bad, it would have only taken a little longer.

Life is not simple, and a little understanding by the populace of the technical issues involved would go a long way.


Lord help us-even the EPA is wreaking havoc!


Isn’t it amazing how the once proud words, “the business of America is business” is now coming back to haunt the nation in perpetuity? The very fact that these kinds of problems have been allowed to fester for decades upon decades proves to me that the US is controlled by oligarchs who care only about making money and couldn’t give a hoot about the environment that they are destroying for everyone else. The worst of it is that the fat fools in the whorehouse called Congress are helping them out as much as possible to destroy America from the inside out!


why do they call this an “accident”? did anyone believe that piling up those toxic tailings was any thing but a crime against nature? and how was the EPA’s act “inadvertent”?
Evo Morales told us 2 years ago that either capitalism dies or the Earth will? It is insane to prefer capitalism over our planet


I see the yellow river on the news-the EPA saying they were at fault-but zero follow up by the news media. And all this toxic stuff is headed down stream-and the EPA saying its no big deal-really! I’m sure ten years from now we will hear about the cancer deaths-but today its no big deal-go back to sleep,there is nothing here to worry about.


A river can be completely dead, and laden with precipitated heavy metals and still look fairly clear. If you go onto Google earth and and look at the numerous tourist “vimeo” photos of the Animas river downstream and around Silverton, you will see the red-stained riverbed and rocks, and metal-precipitate haze of a typical badly AMD-impacted stream (I live in an area with extensive AMD from old mines and am a geotechnical engineer). The EPA is not responsible for the acid generation from the mine - the current mine owner** is. The EPA is not responsible for building a funding-hobbled treatment pond that had it not breached now, it would have breached soon. It is the greedy tourist businesses of that area that opposed superfund listing of the upper Animas watershed that prevented the funding needed to build adequate AMD treatment facilities.

You need to avoid sounding like the sort of flat-earth people (creationists, AGW-denialists) who only see obfuscation when something cannot be argued with one-like quips.

**Owner: Gold King Consolidated, Inc.
Address of Record: 7555 E Hampden Avenue Suite 413, DENVER, CO 80231
MSHA ID: 05-04057


I forgot to mention that those Vimeo photos of the polluted river are 10 years old.


All of the toxic water needs to be diverted directly to the White House and Congress. They and their children should be forced to bathe in it until they understand the gravity of continuing the toxic practices that have become normal in this insane, money-grubbing nation. They’re never touched by the disasters their votes cause. The owners of the mine need to be held accountable as well and should pay all expenses for clean up out of pocket.


I’m not downplaying the situation, I’m trying to stop the attacks against the ONLY organization that was and is trying to do something to remedy this polluted area.

But Fine - call for the abolition the EPA and let the Koch Brothers take over environmental protection.

And by the way, the media - which cannot seem to cover any technical issues correctly, is now reporting that a landslide had covered and plugged the mine portal, and the EPA was trying to probe the plug to determine if water was backing up behind it. I personally believe that it was actually a plug put there by the past mine operator, and the EPA was rightly trying to determine if water was backing up behind it. either way, the plug was going to blow in short order - EPA poking at it of not. But It would have blown with even more acid water behind it.

Once again, the EPA did not create all this acid water - they were the only ones trying to do something about it. I gave you all the address of the mine owner’s offices - go there and protest.


OK, I found the Mine - a June 2014 aerial view from Google Earth here:

N 37 53 50
W107 38 38

Looking at the 2014 and previous images, I think I have a good idea what happened.

In 2006, the mine portal was producing no effluent - the mine pool had not yet risen to the portal elevation.

By 2011 the mine pool had reached this portal and a large volume of AMD was flowing out. But no effluent was coming from the possibly hydraulically-connected Mogul Mine portal a mile to the north and 400 feet higher in elevation.

On June 27, 2014, dirt was placed or slid over the portal and what looks like a corrugated arch pipe can be seen set at the point where the portal was located - but no outflow is visible from the pipe. Instead a smaller effluent flow is visible from lower down at the toe of the embankment. Also, tellingly, outflow has started at the Mogul portal, 400 feet higher in elevation. This doesn’t look good. Presumably the portal caved or there was a hillside slip plugging the portal where the pipe had been set and there now might be 400 feet of water head backed up behind the plug.

A major release was probably imminent at any time after late 2014, and the only way to have prevented it would have been to drill holes into the mine from higher up the mountainside and installing some large pumps and an extensive lime-treatment pond system - very difficult and expensive to do in this high country that is snowbound 2/3 of the year. It looks like the EPA was probably doing the best they could in a damned if they do and damned if they don’t situation.

I guess next time the EPA should remain aloof of all these environmental messes so that they will not be blamed when disaster happens.


Yunzer, what is AMD?