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EPA statement on mine waste release
From Silverton Standard, the place where you can write!
Posted on August 05 2015, 10:38pm by Mark Esper in Local News category
The EPA released the following statement late Wednesday, Aug. 5

This morning (Wednesday, Aug. 5) at approximately 10:30 am, an EPA and State Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety team working to investigate and address contamination at the Gold King Mine in San Juan County, Colo. unexpectedly triggered a large release of mine waste water into the upper portions of Cement Creek.  Initial estimates are that the release contained approximately 1M gallons of water that was held behind unconsolidated debris near an abandoned mine portal.  There were several workers at the site at the time of the breach, all were unharmed.  


The primary environmental concern is the pulse of contaminated water containing sediment and metals flowing as an orange-colored discharge downstream through Cement Creek and into the Animas River. 


The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment has notified water users downstream of the release so they can take appropriate steps to turn off intakes until the contaminated water passes.  The Town of Silverton does not take water out of the affected portions of Cement Creek.  Due to current and longstanding water quality impairment associated with heavy metals there are no fish populations in the Cement Creek watershed and populations in the Animas River have historically been impaired for several miles downstream of Silverton.  Over the next several days, EPA teams will be sampling and investigating downstream locations to confirm that the release has passed and poses no additional concerns for aquatic life or water users. 


“This unfortunate incident underscores the very reason EPA and the State of Colorado are focused on addressing the environmental risks at abandoned mine sites,” said David Ostrander, director of EPA’s emergency response program in Denver. “We are thankful that the personnel working on this mine cleanup project were unharmed.  EPA will be assessing downstream conditions to ensure any impacts and concerns are addressed, as necessary.”


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Comments (2)  
EPA whistleblower on August 12 2015, 3:36pm
The EPA triggered it alright....on purpose.
cbusenke on August 20 2015, 11:12am
What this underscores??!! Mr. Ostrander, sir, director of EPA's jackass department, this is not a mere 'incident,' as you so wantonly describe it. This is a damn disaster in every way. What this underscores is that the EPA has far outgrown it's useful and productive size which is when agencies are a help to the American people. Some time ago the EPA grew to a girth that allow for it to excel in bureaucracy-making, fee and regulation writing and collecting, self-perpetuating behaviors and most obvious to every American...it is a 24 hour gross incompetence factory. While we all envy the fact that your agency is allowed to use 'made-up' financial figures in its goal making and setting, as well as in its future projections. Thanks for candidly informing us of that practice. Since the EPA and it's kindred agencies don't get out into America much, its obvious that you've grown into a domicile favoring type agency. Undoubtedly, an obese one at that. Thank you very much in candidly displaying what has become of our regulation producing, law enforcing, fee collecting, job-creation impeding agency that is supposed to be an "outdoor" agency.