Animas River fouled by 1 million gallons of contaminated mine water
On August 5, 2015, the Animas River was contaminated with heavy, toxic metals such as lead and arsenic after the U.S. EPA mishandled a cleanup effort at the Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colorado. The Animas River runs throughout Colorado and into New Mexico, intersecting with the San Juan River.
For days, the Animas turned bright yellow-orange as metal particles flowed through the twisting river. In addition to the acute pollution, the heavy metals sank into the river sediment, potentially causing longer-term problems.
Much has been made in the media of EPA’s negligence. However, the less popular but possibly more important story lies in the many abandoned mines throughout Colorado and the country, which are potential sources of future toxic contamination. In fact, some have suggested the mines in Colorado should become a Superfund site.
And, while there are a few hundred abandoned mines around the Animas River area in Colorado, there are thousands of abandoned mines throughout the country.
Whatever the fate of the Colorado mines and the thousands of mines throughout the country, it is clear more toxic disasters are sure to occur.
The EPA and others have been quick to declare water quality standards are back to pre-spill conditions. But, that conclusion does not tell the whole story. Many questions remain unanswered. What is the quality of the sediment? What are the long-term effects of sediment pollution in the Animas? What was the water quality of the Animas prior to the spill due to those abandoned mines? And, how many more mines are ticking time-bombs?
Gomez Trial Attorneys’ Environmental practice handles water contamination cases, including surface water, groundwater, drinking water, and storm and waste water.