Home | About | Donate

Navajo Nation 'Lifeline' Under Threat from Toxic Mine Spill


Navajo Nation 'Lifeline' Under Threat from Toxic Mine Spill

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

The Navajo community is fearing for its land and livelihood as 3 million gallons of yellow water laden with lead, arsenic and other heavy metals on Wednesday flowed through the reservation.


“The ancestral Puebloan site of Aztec Ruins National Monument is situated along the river in the present day town of Aztec and for much of its course the river flows through native Ute and Navajo lands.” And having seen the dismal living conditions and poverty on both the Ute and Navajo reservations, the loss of water for themselves, their livestock, and their crops is a death knell for all three and should be deemed a national disaster. The loss of life and property with the fall of the Twin Towers on 911 would pale in comparison (but no TV cameras give 24/7 coverage to the Animas disaster). FEMA needs to act and FAST! Add to this tragedy all the coal mining that is taking place on the Navajo reservation with all the toxins left in its wake and the devastation to people, animals and the environment is monumental.

I shake my head in dismay when I read “and drinking bottled water is advised.” Tell that to the farmers and ranchers as they rush to keep their animals and their crops safe. At the very least, the US and state governments should be providing cargo airplane loads of bottled water to all living in the wake of the toxic flow.


This report referred to “tainted water” - a fine euphemism. Likewise calling the river water merely “discoloured”. The colour or tints seen in this poisoned water is the least of the problems. remember that this water is used for irrigation of crops. I understand that among the pollutants/poisons involved is cadmium - this is a carcingen and is taken up by plants. I wonder if this little point has been acted on? It suggests to me that among the first measures to be taken would have been to alert farmers etc that this water is unsafe to use for irrgation purposes, and that all crops exposed must be destroyed. No doubt this would cost a lot as farmers would requirw compensation… And that would be a politically expensive idea, at a sensitive moment in the US’s interminable ‘election cycle’ - might it cost a candidate in terms of votes?
In due course these rivers with this poisoned and polluted water will reach the sea - can the EPA ‘experts’ guarantee there woukd be no harm done to marine life?
I live in Britain and here the UK government is about to bring in a ‘fast-track’ process for delivering planning approvals for fracking activtiies even in some very sensitive and beautiful areas, and especially when local communities are clearly opposed to these schemes. I shudder to think of the future, with our waterways and the water-tables on which we rely are permanently and irrevocably damaged beyond repair!
As for the brilliant newshounds at the BBC, I have at last found a brief but very reassuring note about this toxic spill. The water was turned “mustard yellow” but the watermoved so fast that the EPA thinks there was no "significant danger " to wildlife.Yet it seems that your “local authorities”- not being quite so trusting or gullible as the Beeb - “took steps to protect drinking water supplies and farms”. Really???.
With the 70th anniversary of the first use of the Atom Bomb so much in the news, I am reminded of another disaster in the making: the still unresolved problem of safe storage and disposal of nuclear waste. Even a decommissioned nuclear power plant still has to be daily monitored and manually checked to ensure nothing is going wrong .
To me, capitalism is a system that’s simply “unsfae at any speed” - it’s priority is economics and profits, not the environment and people.
Fight the system, friends!


The EPA have proven themselves to be craven morons. This started up in Colorado with allot of people calling agencies as soon as it happened. They accidentlyu broke the old damn they should have gone into emergency mode that day and tried to stop this sludge and blocked it off immediately. Now it is starting to hit 4 corners and the Dineh which never should have happened. It’s killed all the fish flora and fauna and who knows how much wildlife. The need to get their heads outta where ever they are in and do something


Agreed! As for fracking, that is yet another nail in the coffin of our planet’s well-being…the process consumes untold (and unrevealed by industry that will only provide 'estimates") amounts of water. And the water used to blast/crack into the gas deposits is then unusable and the gases (methane in particular) that are released adversely impact all life both in the area/region and downstream. Several states in the US including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and North Dakota are proof positive of the deleterious effects of fracking that includes a marked increase in earthquake activity.

As for tar sands extraction, you would not believe the utter ruination of all areas in which operations occur. Here is a link to a documentary on the havoc wrought on the environment and decimation of hundreds of thousands of acres in Alberta Canada: http://www.ted.com/talks/garth_lenz_images_of_beauty_and_devastation

The photographs are real and the devastation left me sobbing.

The god of money and greed has trumped all sense of stewardship for our planet and all life.


How many more times are we going to hear the LIES.

Everything is fine, the water just looks discolored.
We can clean it up. Don’t worry Everything is fine.

Doublespeak is firmly upon us.

And they worry that the People are in the Streets…
They better Worry.


This is just more of the bullshit lies we have heard for decades. The environmental destroyers are never held accountable for the damage they do.

Vote for Bernie Sanders, the only candidate with the courage to even mention protecting mother earth. Such is the hold the corporations have over this nation.

Think this is bad, just wait until they pass the TPP.


I live in New Mexico and am appalled by what has happened to this state in the last thousand years. Europeans came here and grabbed the land, displace the people, and exploited the resources… This is SO not just about recent USA administrations. The gold mine that was the cause of this disaster was shut down in 1923. We are dealing with the messes created by hundreds of years of occupation.


ALL of the contaminated water needs to be diverted directly to the White House! Send truckloads of it and dump in right on Michelle’s organic garden.
This disaster makes me sick to my stomach, which pales in comparison to what it’s really doing to the people and land involved. Obama is not only waging oil wars, he’s waging environmental wars that will leave disasters in his wake for decades to come.
Amerika is a blight on the planet with its policies of death and destruction, all in the name of profit. Too bad the native peoples of the land didn’t have better homeland security when the white male crapholes of the world invaded their shores.


Does anyone know whether the government is at least providing bottled water to the reservation? These folks will end up using the tainted water because that is all they have in some places. Epa’s fault (the government) and it is the government’s responsibility to provide safe drinking water to the local people affected by the spill.


It’s the government’s responsibility to provide them not only drinking water, but clean food for the next decade or however long it is going to take to clean this up. It’s not like they’re going to be able to grow their own.

Figure the odds of that happening. Right up there along with compensation for the mineral wealth Native Americans have been robbed of and enforcement of all the treaties that were ever signed.


Allows? The EPA was defanged by all those anti-government regulatory agencies.

Many Libertarians will use (as you appear to be doing) this example of a costly mistake on the part of the E.P.A to argue that the agency is worthless… thereby fulfilling the Koch Brothers’ and ALEC’s dream (and plan) to open any and every natural resource to absolute and unmitigated (by anything so quaint as law or concern for the Public’s Good) corporate for-profit-only plunder.


Yep: Be sure to make the E.P.A into the notorious villain… of course the E.P.A would have had nothing to bungle had there not been so deadly a toxic site waiting like an open sore, one of many… due to the clout held by energy and mining companies. There is no shortage of E.P.A superfund sites–chemical atom bombs waiting to detonate if the conditions are ripe–that have no funds for clean-up. And why is that? Because message shapers like you who are likely funded by Libertarian corporations that want absolute freedom to curry profits and ZERO culpability towards the vast ecological wounds they leave behind… try to turn the matter to the regulators rather than those who require regulation.


This quotation is a lot like those that posit that human nature, population numbers, or that great amorphous composite termed “WE,” have done thus and so. And these particular word frames deliberately leave out the types of corporate graft, control of law and legislators, fabrication of false messaging across media, and lies told often that make the acts of corporations those of such ubiquitous plunder.

For all the philosophical implications, these are generic phrases that are meant to sound glib while protecting actual trespassers.

The great irony is that all those “personal responsibility” advocates who push their right wing agendas through congress are last on the list of owning that personal responsibility when it’s their toxic mines, and their fracking operations, and their coal slurry spills, and their oil train crashes that PLUNDER so many places while putting so many sentient beings at risk.

This is about resource extraction and energy policies that do great damage… not about the great sea of WE or the mistake made by the E.P.A. All of those “done unto” along with those trying to clean up the messes are not the actual trespassers. It’s predictable that these diversions would be used to hide the direct culpability of the mine owners who leave so much scar tissue in their wake. It bleeds deadly chemicals back into the waters of life that all species depend upon. THAT is the responsible party!


IF you understood your own words you’d notice that ONUS is placed on the EPA as if that entity “allows” what it hardly has any power to hold sway over.

Nixon may have started the EPA, but it’s right wing Conservations who typically vote Republican who have defunded it so much that it must work on a shoestring and can’t viably handle all of the toxic sites that now scar the American landscape… fast leeching into water tables and rivers in many places.

THAT is what I am “on about.” I do read your posts and the meaning of your concluding statement fits my castigation. If you didn’t mean it that way, then you should alter your own statement.

Also, as I have observed as the ruling dynamic IN these threads: It’s typically the first-up tag team member who gets a particular meme into motion, and then his back-up team “runs with the ball.”

It was predictable that more castigations would be made for the EPA than those doing the original damage–mining operations.

YOU set that ball into motion. The Ron and Rand Paul contingent is always strongly represented in this forum’s opinion pages.


The American west ever since the arrival of the “white-man” has been used for exploitation regardless the environmental or human costs. Begun with the genocide of Native Americans (still ongoing) moved into genocide of numerous wild animal species (still ongoing), pollution by nuclear tests and uranium mining, gold mining, oil & gas extraction, hydro-power dams decimating salmon runs, welfare ranchers co-opting public lands “managed” by the BLM running millions of head of livestock for private profit and demanding that “Wildlife Services” killers slaughter every wild animal deemed a “threat” to those profits (all large predators and wild mustangs)…on and on and on…federal agencies, especially in the west, have been subverted and staffed by revolving-door agents actually working for the industries they are charged with “regulating”, shills and bureaucrats with apparently shite for brains for not checking FIRST before opening a dam holding-back 3 million gallons (and counting!) of toxic waste - let’s not mince words with EPA-speak of “tainted”, “dis-colored” or other BS euphemisms for poisoned! They say the “bad color” is dissipating or passing - to where?? Into sediment and downstream and the freakin ocean! Like it magically disappears?! WTF?

What we are witnessing is total failure and corruption of government to work for the Common Good and instead work for common greed and exploitation of everything at public and environmental expense! Polluters skate and the public (except the rich and powerful) pay! ENOUGH!




This should have been major front page news-and a real news media would have been asking many questions and not letting up until they got real answers. This is a natural resource being destroyed and is treated like ow ya by the we just dumped all kinds of toxic chemicals in a major water way-no big deal-nothing here-just go back to sleep!----and on the corporate side think of the ratings for a story like this-but the mission is to say as little as possible???


Meanwhile, the Governor of Utah and greedy politicians and developers are using this incident to try and take control of Federal Land so they can sell it and profit at the expense of all of us.