#Animas River: Congress wades into Colorado #GoldKingMine spill

A “get well soon” balloon floats in the contaminated waters of the Animas River flowing through Durango on Monday afternoon August 10, 2015 -- photo The Durango Herald, Shane Benjamin
A “get well soon” balloon floats in the contaminated waters of the Animas River flowing through Durango on Monday afternoon August 10, 2015 — photo The Durango Herald, Shane Benjamin

From the Associated Press via the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

Leading House and Senate Republicans said EPA officials were frustrating their attempts to investigate the spill.

They want documents released explaining how a government cleanup team doing excavation work triggered the release of 3 million gallons of rust-colored sludge from the inactive Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado.

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas suggested the hearings offer the agency a chance to dispel growing suspicions over its actions.

Meanwhile, some Democrats are pursuing a proposal for companies to pay for the cleanup of thousands of abandoned mines across the U.S.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Charles Ashby):

Though he meant no pun, Gov. John Hickenlooper said there may be a silver lining to the recent spill of heavy metals from an abandoned Silverton mine into the Animas River earlier this month.

The incident has sparked a serious debate about the numerous hazardous mines left unremediated by private mining companies throughout the West, the governor said at a Club 20 roundtable discussion in Grand Junction on Thursday that touched on topics important to the Western Slope, from the sage grouse to severance taxes.

Hickenlooper said he’s spoken several times about the spill and mine issues in general with Gina McCarthy, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is responsible for overseeing cleanup of all the abandoned mines.

“However much you hate the EPA, she’s the one who overruled her people and said, ‘We’re going to take responsibility and own up,’ ” Hickenlooper said. “Can you imagine what her lawyers said? She has been very clear, and never backed away, saying, ‘We’re going to do everything we can to make every raft operator, every fishing guide, we’re going to make everyone whole.”

The governor said as a result of the spill, the EPA is now talking about creating a broader water-treatment plan to protect the entire region from possible future environmental disasters, saying the Gold King Mine that led to the current situation is minor by comparison to what environmental damage other mines in the area could leave in their wake.

“If we end up getting a treatment plant out of this, which would be multi-millions of dollars, it might be a pretty good silver lining,” he said. “Getting water treatment there would be a big step in solving this. The Animas River after this disaster is going to come out better than it was before.

From the Associated Press via The Pueblo Chieftain:

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help in the tribe’s recovery from a mine spill.

In a letter Tuesday, Begaye asks FEMA to appoint a recovery coordinator to the tribe, saying the agency is best positioned to assess the short- and long-term impacts, determine priorities and support recovery.

Click here for press releases and updates for Gold King Mine Response from the EPA

Leave a Reply