If a private mining company had done the same arrest warrants would be drawn up.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was trying to protect the environment when it caused a major spill instead.
The EPA says it was using heavy machinery to investigate pollutants at the Gold King Mine on Wednesday morning when it accidentally released an estimated 1 million gallons of mining waste into a creek. The waste spewed from the creek into the Animas River north of Silverton, Colorado, turning the water an opaque orange color reminiscent of boxed mac and cheese.
“This is a huge tragedy. It’s hard being on the other side of this. We typically respond to emergencies, we don’t cause them,” David Ostrander, EPA’s director of emergency preparedness for the region, said at a community meeting held in Durango, Colorado on Friday afternoon. “But this is just an unanticipated situation that didn’t quite come out as planned.”
In response to an audience member, he added, “We’re asking ourselves the same question: What exactly happened.”
The wastewater released contains heavy metals including lead, arsenic, cadmium, and aluminum, Ostrander said. The EPA is preparing a plan to sample private water wells along the Animas River valley to test for contamination, including mercury contamination, he said.
But the EPA has not released information about what concentration of metals are present in the water, or how much a threat to human and ecosystem health the wastewater might pose. EPA officials did confirm that the sheriff’s office of La Plata County, Colorado, was correct in closing the river to the public, however. “What we received back from the first five samples show that the elevated levels of dissolved metals confirm that the sheriff here took the right measure in putting out the advisory and asking that people not have contact with the river,” Sean McGrath, the EPA administrator for the region that includes Colorado, said at the meeting Friday. “I can assure you we are moving the lab analysis as quickly as I can. The sheriff’s actions were absolutely appropriate.”
SOURCE: Weasel Zippers