The focus on a toxic mine spill that fouled rivers in three Western states shifts to Congress this week as lawmakers kick off a series of hearings into how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accidentally unleashed the deluge of poisoned water.
Video shown at the hearing chronicles the spill as it occurred.
The chairman of the House Science Committee said Wednesday the Environmental Protection Agency’s actions in causing a toxic mine spill that fouled rivers in three Western states were “inexcusable.”
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, vowed to hold the agency accountable for its “negligence” in causing the Aug. 5 spill near Silverton, Colorado, and for its “lack of transparency” afterward. The spill tainted rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah with heavy metals.
NENAHNEZAD, New Mexico — Farmers in the northeast part of the Navajo Nation will soon be cleared to resume using the San Juan River for irrigation after it was contaminated by the Gold King Mine spill.
The Farmington Daily Times reports (http://bit.ly/1NDIjR7 ) that Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye announced Thursday at a meeting with chapter officials that the Fruitland Irrigation canal, which delivers water to the Nenahnezad, San Juan and Upper Fruitland chapters will be opened. The chapters have been without water since the Colorado gold mine sent toxic sludge into the waterway on Aug. 5.
The EPA’s accidental mining wastewater spill has thrust the federal government into a tense relationship with the Navajo Nation.
“Navajo officials have chastised the EPA since the spill and tribal leaders say the aftermath of the release left their people on the brink of economic disaster since use of the San Juan for agricultural purposes was banned,” The Denver Post reported.
Images of the mine spill on Animas River in Colorado stunned people across the West. A once vibrant, clear blue river was transformed into a toxic orange ribbon. The effects of the spill extended far downriver and impacted Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. In this unfortunate incident, federal cleanup efforts inadvertently triggered the flood of mine waste that had been silently building up in mine tunnels for years.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s account of a massive toxic spill it caused in Colorado earlier this month reads like the script from a disaster movie.
The agency released documents Thursday that provide a minute-by-minute account of events that unfolded Aug. 5 at the Gold King Mine in Colorado, when the agency caused three million gallons of toxic wastewater to be released into the Animas River.
Environmental officials said Thursday their long-term concern after the 3 million-gallon Gold King Mine spill centers around the metallic sediment left in its wake.
Specifically, the Environmental Protection Agency says it is worried about the potential stirring up of sediment during “high-water events” and the sludge’s effect on people who are continually recreating for long periods — several weeks — of time.
An internal review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s actions found that the agency failed to estimate the potential volume of toxic wastewater stored in the abandoned Gold King mine before beginning the work that eventually led to a 3 million gallon spill earlier this month. In areport released Wednesday, the EPA’s review team (made up of EPA personnel from across the agency) writes that the agency failed to test for pressure buildup at the mine and narrowly avoided the death of crew members during the event.
NENAHNEZAD — Farmers in the Nenahnezad, San Juan and Upper Fruitland chapters of the Navajo Nation were cleared Thursday to resume using San Juan River water for irrigation soon.
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye gave the directive Thursday night to open the the Fruitland Irrigation canal, which delivers water from the San Juan River to the three chapters. Begaye made the announcement during a meeting with chapter officials and farmers inside the Nenahnezad Multipurpose building.
Washington, D.C. – Representatives Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico and Diana DeGette of Colorado have called for an oversight hearing on the Gold King Mine spill that released 3 million gallons of wastewater into the Animas and San Juan Rivers. Both members serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. DeGette is Ranking Member on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.
The lawmakers sent a letter to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy requesting the hearing.