EPA confirms what locals already know: the Animas River toxic wastewater spill initiated by EPA incompetence is worse than feared. The spill is larger than initially reported, the wastewater continues to spill, and doubtful it can be contained much longer.
Three million gallons, not one, initiated the tragic effluent to escape from Gold King mine. USA Today reports EPA efforts are restraining the yellow sludge in three open containment areas, but they filling to maximum capacity fast and may yet release more toxic mine waste into the waters of the Animas.
For Durango downstream on the Animas and La Plata County, it’s not over until it’s over. La Plata County Manager Joe Kerby declared a state of emergency early on Sunday.
For days, EPA remained mute on the wastewater spill, never mind admitting that the huge discharge threatened the region’s water supply. EPA now reports arsenic at 300 times the normal level, and lead at 3,500 times the normal level, but only at the peak of the effluent rush. Officials said those levels have dropped significantly since the plume moved through the area. Minimizing the disaster, Deborah McKean, chief of the Region 8 Toxicology and Human Health and Risk Assessment said, “It’s not just a matter of toxicity of the chemicals, it’s a matter of exposure.” She said that exposure to the high concentrations in any one area was short.
At best, this is grossly misleading. At worst, it is an outright lie. The contaminants are metal salts, all of which have some solubility in water. This solubility ensures that some metals enter the water as ions and, from there, diffuse out via regular diffusion and turbulence. It is not simply a plug that goes by and then everything is alright, as this EPA mouthpiece implies.
Once it is in the water as ions, any animal that drinks it or any plant that takes it in will need to dispose of it or store it in tissues. From then on all bets are off. Ultimately, dilution will work its way, but it is wrong to imply that everything is alright once the front goes by.
The EPA and its minions tell no truth: the waters will be contaminated for a very long time, until dilution solves the problem. The solution to pollution is dilution, which, however, takes time. In the meantime, farmers will feel the adverse effects.
Meanwhile downstream, New Mexico scurries to protect its water supply. USA Today said further that EPA deployed water quality experts to Shiprock, New Mexico, to sample the waters as well as sending materials for private well sampling to Farmington and Aztec. Testing has not begun in San Juan County where the biggest problem remains access to safe drinking water for residents and livestock.
The situation in Southwest Colorado and nearby New Mexico remains subject to EPA’s inept handling of the tragic wastewater release. Americans worry about terror groups disrupting survival resources such as water or energy, but we never think that our government agencies would sooner do that to us than our enemies.
The waters flow next into the Navajo Nation, which, unlike its neighboring states, are not restricted from filing suit against the United States Government. Our Native Americans neighbors there can and will.