Anyone who saw the river turn orange will remember it for the rest of their lives. One year ago over 3 million gallons of toxic waste from the inactive Gold King mine cascaded into Colorado’s Animas River.
Arsenic. Lead. A variety of other cancer-causing pollutants. Together they made the Animas River one of the West’s most contaminated places, nominated for Superfund designation. And since we lack the necessary rules to hold mining companies accountable for the pollution they create, American taxpayers like you and me are the ones who will pay the tens of millions of dollars to clean it up.
On Wednesday, Congress held its fifth hearing on the August 5 spill of 3 million gallons of toxic mine drainage in to Colorado’s Animas River. On this occasion, the House Natural Resources Committee invited Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell to testify about her agency’s technical report on the causes of the spill.
“We thank Senators Udall, Heinrich, Bennet, Wyden, Markey and others for introducing legislation to reform the 1872 Mining Law.
If this bill had been law before the Gold King Mine waste disaster the Animas River might never have been polluted, and downstream communities in Colorado and New Mexico might never have suffered.
This week, Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Martin Henrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Representative Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) introduced The Gold King Mine Spill Recovery Act of 2015. This is rapid response legislation. The bill ensures that those who suffered losses from the August 5 Gold King mine toxic waste spill quickly receive the compensation they deserve.
“Blaming the EPA for the Animas River mine waste disaster is like blaming the fire department for kicking down your door to put out your house fire. After you ignored the fire marshal’s warnings. And cut the fire department’s budget.
Yesterday, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held the first of four scheduled Congressional hearings pointing blame at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the Gold King mine disaster. According to media reports, on August 5, EPA contractors attempting to relieve water levels and remove debris from the Gold King mine, accidently sprang a leak releasing 3 million gallons of sulfuric acid laden water in to a tributary of the Animas River near Durango, Colorado. In fact, for years leading up to the August 5 disaster, Gold King continuously released roughly the same amount of acid mine drainage each week. To help alleviate this problem, in 2009, Colorado state regulators used the mine owner’s forfeiture bond to install a flume to divert the discharge. This band aid-like patch served mainly as a temporary “fix” to delay the inevitable. According to EPA’s own internal investigation, a disaster like this was waiting to happen.
"Blaming the EPA for the Animas River mine waste disaster is like blaming the fire department for kicking down your door to put out your house fire. After you ignored the fire marshal’s warnings. And cut the fire department’s budget."