1+ million gallons of toxic mine water was released by EPAthis past Wednesday into into Cement Creek, just north of Silverton, Colorado, which then feeds into the Animus River, as well as many others, and eventually will work it’s way to Lake Powell and beyond.

Agency officials, claiming they didn’t realize the severity of the event, didn’t bother to tell people downstream of this disaster until Thursday, a full day after the fluorescent orange water began flowing through the center of their towns.

The lack of notification of the contaminated water, no doubt, caused the water to be used to irrigate crops, feed livestock, and supply households in the area, and, as with all waters that flow freely, a portion will feed into underground aquifers and ground water tables.

Many of the towns along the way have water-recreation based tourism industries which they rely on for keeping their towns afloat(no pun intended). The US Parks Service highly promotes water recreation activities along Glen Canyon in particular.

Here’s a link to a photograph of what this mess actually looks like:
Photograph: by Jerry McBride/AP

EPA officials stated that the impacts of the spill could stretch for years into the future and, then later, told reporters that the impact on human and environmental health was not immediately clear- are we to actually believe that this impact is unclear? Seriously?! They’ve known the effects of lead, arsenic, cadmium, copper, calcium and other heavy metals for some time. Why are they claiming that they don’t know?

The wastewater is a toxic left-over accumulation from gold mining of more than 100 years ago. The huge amount of water released nearly flooded Cement Creek as it flowed into the Animus River. EPA officials said that a blockage of loose soil and little more was holding in the bright orange wastewater at Gold King Mine, a former gold mine, when the incident occurred.

The EPA was working at the property as part of a plan to remediate the superfund site and stop a longtime flow of acidic, heavy metal-laden wastewater from the nearby Red and Bonita mines, all near the abandoned mining town of Gladstone. The work would have installed a bulkhead, or massive plug, at the end of the inactive mining tunnel. (Clearly, this seems to be a planned ‘band-aid’ fix, as the wastewater would again continue to build and accumulate until…well, you get the picture).

Given the untimely notification of the dangerous heavy metals into waterways that supply critically needed water for drinking, households, agriculture and crops, it is difficult to ascertain whether this wastewater was let go so as to make future installing of the proposed bulwark easier, or was an integral part in the proposed population reduction plan, or perhaps both.

It’s devastating effects will be felt by many states’ flora and fauna as the water continues to flow toward the Pacific Ocean. Aside from Colorado’s residents, ranchers and farmers, as well as all the wildlife and plant species, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, and parts of Mexico, all depend on Colorado’s precious water for survival.

David Ostrander, the EPA’s head of emergency management, told a standing-room-only crowd in Durango Friday afternoon, “First off, I’d like to just say I’m sorry for what’s happened. This is a huge tragedy, and it’s hard being on the other side of this, in terms of being the one who caused this incident.” The way it was stated did not appear to fall within the perimeters of ‘accident’.

The same day, the EPA, in an effort to try to capture the heavy metals as more continues to flow downstream, was building settling ponds. EPA wants to treat water before releasing it into Cement Creek, although exactly how to ‘treat’ the toxicity of the heavy-metal laden water was not specified and remains unclear.

The Federal Bureau of Reclamation, which manages water supplies in the western United States, is strongly warning against any contact with the water, and is doubling the flow of water from the Navajo dam, near the San Juan River(which this wastewater will join), to try to dilute the toxic waste.

Perhaps most unnerving for all who are along the pathways of this deadly water is the fact that, as of Friday afternoon, the mine was still leaking a lot of toxic wastewater with no end in sight, creating a continuous waste tail that has yet to fully flow down the river. One would think diverting this toxic water until it can be ‘treated’ would be desirable, especially given the huge dosage already well on its way downstream.

An EPA official stated that an estimated 200 gallons of wastewater per minute were still flowing out of the mine as of Friday afternoon.

After two U.S. Supreme Court rulings raised questions over which waterways the EPA Clean Water Act covers — particularly when it comes to those that flow only part of the year or are otherwise unnavigable-, the EPA began working on the “Waters of the United States” rule. Republicans insist the rule, as written, infringes on the rights of private property owners, the states, and municipal governments, and gives the EPA regulatory authority that goes too far beyond the intended scope of the Act. The expanded authority could, in its extreme, include everything from ditches, puddles, and swimming pools if the rule is passed as written.

“The rule would expand the reach of the federal government [and] undermine the federal-state partnership under the [act],” said Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “This rule wrongly assumes that states and local governments … don’t know how, or don’t care about, protecting their waters.” Private property owners share that view.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, agreed with Shuster, and went further, broadening his criticism, saying the plan represents just the latest attempt by the Obama administration not only to further expand federal jurisdiction, but also to usurp the power of Congress.

Inhofe stated,“Agencies can only carry out the authority Congress gives them. They can’t create it unilaterally, and that’s what, I believe, is happening here.”

A number of states from around the country are challenging the EPA’s regulatory overreach in court. This rule is but the latest in a long list of actions by the Obama Administration that ignores the law.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) added that EPA officials weren’t being honest with Congress — or, perhaps, with themselves, either.

The EPA thrives on feeding fear (even though their ‘facts’ are often tainted in their favor), and is constantly finding new ‘reasons’ to exist.

Based on all the faulty ‘scientific research’ continuously presented in the past by the EPA, WHY would we allow them to (mis)handle such a precious resource as our water?

“Suppose the Congress developed a backbone and abolished the EPA tomorrow morning. Would the air and water be in any danger? Not really, because there are environmental protection agencies in all fifty states and every U.S. territory. Overlap and duplication of effort is always costly. Think of the money we’d save”.(see: http://www.akdart.com/epa.html for other EPA issues) [not to mention saving our resources!]