Locations on Cement Creek blamed for heavy metals in Animas River.
A field trip by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., to the Red & Bonita mine portal on Saturday, April 28, provided some insight into the complex nature of the acid-mine drainage pouring into upper Cement Creek.
Over the course of just a few months, the change in the appearance of the discharge of about 320 gallons per minute of tainted water from the mine above Gladstone that had been abandoned more than a century ago surprised even those who have been closely monitoring the site.
“This has dramatically changed,” noted Peter Butler, coordinator for the Animas River Stakeholders Group, as he gazed upon the water flowing over the mine waste pile below the portal.
“This was not white last fall,” Butler said. “We’ve never seen this color before.”
Butler speculated that the discharge may now contain more aluminum than it had before, when the water ran red, signaling heavy iron content.
“We really don’t know why (it changed),” Butler said.
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