EPA causes a major environmental disaster, the question is: will it fine itself and fire those involved?

From the “if a citizen or company did this there would be hell to pay” department:

Guest essay by  (via Somewhat Reasonable)

The Environmental Protection Agency often justifies its own existence by noting that corporations, who see profit as their goal rather than environmental protection, are ill-equipped (or at least, ill-prioritized) to care for America’s natural resources.

It turns out that, perhaps, the EPA might also be ill-equipped to handle toxic waste when it comes to preventing large-scale pollution of our nation’s waterways. In fact, they may have caused, on its own, one of our nation’s greatest environmental disasters. EPA crews trying to collect and contain waste water in the Gold King mine in Durango, Colorado, loosed 1.1 million gallons of “acidic, yellowish” discharge, causing the pollution – which includes levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium, aluminum and copper – to flow into the Animas River (an early tributary of the Colorado) at a rate of 1200 gallons per minute.

From the Denver Post:

Polluted water flows down the Animas River Friday morning, August 7, 2015. (Brent Lewis, The Denver Post)
Polluted water flows down the Animas River Friday morning, August 7, 2015. (Brent Lewis, The Denver Post)

EPA chiefs flew in Friday and acknowledged an inappropriate initial response Wednesday in which they downplayed the severity and failed to anticipate the downstream impacts.

Durango identifies itself as the “River City,” and residents’ lives revolve around fishing, swimming, tubing and entertaining tourists along the Animas River.

Most longtime residents know too well the problem of old mines that leak heavy metals into headwaters — an issue around Colorado and the western United States — but never expected a ruinous onslaught like this.

Holly Jobson, 62, walking at noon along banks where yellow sediment was glomming onto rocks, said Silverton ought to push for a proper federal cleanup around mines. Silverton officials in the past have resisted, fearing the stigma of a federal Superfund cleanup designation and the impact on tourism.

By this morning, the waterflow had decreased to around 580 gallons per minute. Lab testing has not yet begun on site, and the EPA is apologizing for their slow response rate, particularly considering the magnitude of the incident. Durango gets most of its water from the Aminas River and relies on the river’s beauty to bring tourists to the town. The city has already lost $150,000 in revenue this month. 1,000 water wells are presumed contaminated.

"People kayak in the Animas River near Durango, Colo., Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in water colored from a mine waste spill. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said that a cleanup team was working with heavy equipment Wednesday to secure an entrance to the Gold King Mine. Workers instead released an estimated 1 million gallons of mine waste into Cement Creek, which flows into the Animas River. (Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT"
People kayak in the Animas River near Durango, Colo., Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in water colored from a mine waste spill. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said that a cleanup team was working with heavy equipment Wednesday to secure an entrance to the Gold King Mine. Workers instead released an estimated 1 million gallons of mine waste into Cement Creek, which flows into the Animas River. (Jerry McBride The Durango Herald via AP)

The EPA has not only claimed responsibility for the spill, but is claiming responsibility for a slow response as well. The EPA says now that the spill was far faster, and far larger than they initially assumed.

The EPA did not have to be on site, to begin with, it seems. The region has a coalition of local organizations called the Animas River Stakeholders Group who have worked together since 1994 to address pollution coming out of nearby mines. The Gold King mine is widely known to be one of the most polluted, leaking around 50 to 250 gallons of waste water per minute. While the group had pushed to find the source of the leak and stem it from there, the EPA went ahead with the project apart from the group, and seemingly without local expertise.

UPDATE: The EPA has now released new figures, and its now 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater and climbing


Emily Zanotti is researcher and writer for The Heartland Institute, and a blogger and columnist for the The American Spectator. She is a ten-year veteran of political communications and online journalism based out of Chicago, where she runs her own digital media firm. Her work has appeared at her former blog, NakedDC, on the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal and across the web.

 

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MCourtney
August 10, 2015 11:34 am

This is a real environmental disaster.
It’s probably worth brainstorming what to do about it before the piling in on the blame.
I mean, we know who is to blame. But do we know what to do about real pollution?

david smith
Reply to  MCourtney
August 10, 2015 1:34 pm

+1

Reply to  MCourtney
August 10, 2015 1:35 pm

Best to first define what the solution was that EPA was trying to use. This was no breach of a containment pond, there are seen at the Gold King site larger than around 20 feet in length. But there have been long-time government-directed efforts to fill mine entrances with concrete plugs. What happens when you mess with such things? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOJRp9lx6rU

RWturner
Reply to  Russell Cook (@questionAGW)
August 10, 2015 2:13 pm

You linked to a Pepsi commercial?

Reply to  Russell Cook (@questionAGW)
August 10, 2015 3:14 pm

Watch the commercial all the way through – 49 seconds – then you’ll get the metaphor. EPA Bulldozer nudging concrete plug which is the only thing preventing a towering labyrinth of mine water from pouring out. What could possibly go wrong?

TeeWee
Reply to  Russell Cook (@questionAGW)
August 11, 2015 9:37 am

Did the EPA have legal authority to be on that private land?  Did they have the land owners permission?  Did they have a warrant signed by a Judge?  We need a Congressional hearing on this put of co tell outfit.  Who protects us from the EPA? 

sherlock
Reply to  Russell Cook (@questionAGW)
August 11, 2015 5:44 pm

..migrant workers digging the DAM ITSELF TO CREATE HOLE

NotTheOne
Reply to  MCourtney
August 10, 2015 1:46 pm

“But do we know what to do about real pollution?”
Well for one AGW apologists need to stop deregulating environmentally destructive industries to the point of universal legal immunity – case in point ^^^ the article above. F’ing hypocrites…

Moist Von Lipwig
Reply to  NotTheOne
August 10, 2015 5:09 pm

The above agency is a government agency and, as such, is regulated.
Therefore, to blame deregulation for this evil is completely and totally stupid and evil.

Karl Compton
Reply to  NotTheOne
August 11, 2015 1:55 pm

Yeah, NotTheOne,
You tell ’em! Those Gold King environmental rapists were doing their rape of Mother Gaia all the way up until 1924! Rape those raping rapers! I’ll bet George W. Bush was right there with them! Think of all the laws they broke even before that bastid Nixon created the EPA!

TonyL
Reply to  MCourtney
August 10, 2015 2:11 pm

Wrong, Pile On good and hard.
Give them everything they deserve and more. See that, for once, those responsible are punished. Then force the EPA out of the picture. This is the end result of them screwing up everything about those mines for decades.
With the EPA gone, there will be room for people who know what is going on to come in and clean up the mess.

Theo Barker
Reply to  TonyL
August 11, 2015 11:54 am

Tony, I visited the area over the weekend (as I have dozens of times). The river through Silverton was already essentially normal. If you ask local mineralogists about the composition of the minerals in the area, all of the contents of the “spill” are indigenous. In fact, just the other side of the Red Mountains from Cement Creek, the Uncompahgre flows that color virtually year around above and through Ouray. The Red Mountains are red due to the heavy mineral deposits in the mountains. You can get an idea of the colors from Google Maps aerial view.
The whole thing would have never happened if the EPA just let the water trickle out of the mine in the first place. It would have been diluted naturally, as it has for millennia. The photo below posted by Samuel P Cogar looks like most of the streams in the San Juan mountains. It is a mineral-rich area!

RWturner
Reply to  MCourtney
August 10, 2015 2:12 pm

There is no clean up process for this. We can only hope that it’s highly diluted by time it reaches Lake Powell where the water will sink to the bottom and linger there for tens to hundreds of years.

Reply to  RWturner
August 10, 2015 2:31 pm

No, it won’t. The discoloration is not sediment in the ordinary sense of the term. See downthread explanation. It can be diluted, certainly, and will be in Lake Powell. But only RO desalination can fix that water.

Reply to  RWturner
August 10, 2015 9:47 pm

Iron oxide? Nah At a low pH it would have been reduced and would appear more green.

John Silver
Reply to  MCourtney
August 10, 2015 3:15 pm

Cadmium yellow.

John Silver
Reply to  John Silver
August 10, 2015 3:37 pm

Cadmium orange.

Bill McCarter
Reply to  John Silver
August 10, 2015 4:04 pm

Most probably Iron Hydroxide, common name limonite. If it is it is relatively harmless. Cadmium or selenium would be a true disaster.

John Silver
Reply to  John Silver
August 10, 2015 4:06 pm
Bill McCarter
Reply to  John Silver
August 10, 2015 4:12 pm

Just read down further, at a PH of 3 or 4 this would not be limonite, it would be really nasty stuff.

KTM
Reply to  MCourtney
August 10, 2015 4:10 pm

No, those on the response team need to come up with a response plan. Our job is to point out that the buffoonish focus by the epa on the non issue of climate change has made them ill prepared to devote proper attention and resources to real environmental problems.

Resourceguy
Reply to  MCourtney
August 11, 2015 6:37 am

Okay, how about reforms on permits for agencies to do this type of work and full disclosure to all communities and local governments and the public before hand. Was there any notice given on the workplan?

mike restin
Reply to  MCourtney
August 11, 2015 2:14 pm

How much CO2 was released?
Obama knows what’s important.

Alexander
Reply to  MCourtney
August 12, 2015 11:10 am

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-08-12/did-epa-intentionally-poison-animas-river-secure-superfund-money
A week before The EPA disastrously leaked millions of gallons of toxic waste into The Animas River in Colorado, this letter to the editor was published in The Silverton Standard & The Miner local newspaper, authored by a retired geologist detailing verbatim, how EPA would foul the Animas River on purpose in order to secure superfund money…
“But make no mistake, within seven days, all of the 500gpm flow will return to Cememnt Creek. Contamination may actually increase… The “grand experiment” in my opinion will fail.
And guess what [EPA’s] Mr. Hestmark will say then?
Gee, “Plan A” didn’t work so I guess we will have to build a treat¬ment plant at a cost to taxpayers of $100 million to $500 million (who knows).
Reading between the lines, I believe that has been the EPA’s plan all along”

Dr. Bogus Pachysandra
Reply to  Alexander
August 12, 2015 12:34 pm

I read the letter this morning. He hit the nail on the head! Prescient!

Reply to  Alexander
August 13, 2015 11:57 am

That was the EPA plan from the beginning. Also, Lake Powell is the favorite holiday fishing place of all those politically unacceptable “rednecks” from Utah, Colorado, and Arizona, who rent houseboats every year and have good time with their politically unacceptable brats. Damn breeders. A perfect water reservoir to poison, don’t you think?

Dreadnought
August 10, 2015 11:35 am

I suppose such rank double standards can also be seen in the way that ‘they’ get away with the mass slaughter of birds and bats by the diabolical wind and solar factories – whereas anyone else would have to ‘stand tall before The Man’. I expect they’ll wriggle out of this one too, as per usual…

cnxtim
Reply to  Dreadnought
August 10, 2015 12:22 pm

EPA aka Environmental Pollution Authority

Tom J
Reply to  cnxtim
August 10, 2015 1:55 pm

You beat me to it!

Reply to  Dreadnought
August 10, 2015 1:19 pm

The typical heavy-handed, we-know-better-than-you, incompetent, dictatorial attitude of the federal government in a nutshell …
“While the group had pushed to find the source of the leak and stem it from there, the EPA went ahead with the project apart from the group, and seemingly without local expertise.”

Reply to  Dreadnought
August 10, 2015 1:25 pm

This event is likely to stick in the public,s mind for some time. It is such a classic example of bureaucratic ineptitude. They believe that no one understands the issues better than themselves, and thus solve a given problem. Their stance on catastrophic climate change fits right in with that thought.

rogerthesurf
Reply to  Dreadnought
August 10, 2015 3:37 pm

“EPA causes a major environmental disaster, the question is: will it fine itself and fire those involved?”,
Firing is the only proper thing because fining a public government department is pointless seeing as it is all tax payers money anyway. Having said that, its unlikely that anyone will get fired. only firing nowadays occurs when a young office girl/ intern is involved and even Clinton got away with that.!
Cheers
Roger
http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

DickF
August 10, 2015 11:36 am

If there’s any justice left in this country, Gina McCarthy should be fired for this one.

Paul
Reply to  DickF
August 10, 2015 12:33 pm

“Gina McCarthy should be fired for this one.”
Nope, she’ll blame it on; “a couple of rogue agents” and escape unscathed.

Bob B.
Reply to  Paul
August 10, 2015 1:46 pm

I hear the hard drives crashing already.

Harold
Reply to  Paul
August 10, 2015 3:41 pm

I hear that, too. It sounds like a bag of hammers.

F. Ross
Reply to  Paul
August 10, 2015 8:34 pm

And, in a week or so when some reporter asks the President about it, he will chime in that there is not even a smidgen of pollution caused by the EPA

UN Impressed
Reply to  DickF
August 11, 2015 2:03 am

No Obama public comment? Like “Keep a boot on the throat of BP” funny that.

RHS
August 10, 2015 11:41 am

The EPA updates the discharge amounts this morning and stated over three million gallons were let out.

Bryan A
Reply to  RHS
August 10, 2015 12:43 pm

Over 3 million…Well 6 million is over 3 million and 12 million is over 3 million

Taphonomic
Reply to  RHS
August 10, 2015 2:40 pm

The discharge is 580 gallons/minute.
24 hours/day 60 minutes/hour = 1440 minutes/day
1440 minutes/day x 580 gallons/minute = 835,200 gallons/day
Every day that the discharge isn’t stopped is another .8 million gallons

Menicholas
Reply to  Taphonomic
August 10, 2015 6:26 pm

Jeebus H Cripes!

phaedo
August 10, 2015 11:42 am

An excellent opportunity to defund that thoroughly compromised agency. Is this upstream of lake Mead?

Reply to  phaedo
August 10, 2015 11:42 am

Yes

Dreadnought
Reply to  Anthony Watts
August 10, 2015 12:11 pm

Let’s hope that when the lab tests come back they show there aren’t any major ‘nasties’ in there, despite the garish yellow colour of the sediment. I suppose that depends partly on what the old mine was for and what was used in there at the time.
I recall the tailing lake which burst its banks in Romania, back in 2000, spewing millions of gallons of bright red, poisonous sludge onto the surrounding land and settlements – let’s hope to goodness it’s not a re-run of that scale of disaster…

Bryan A
Reply to  Anthony Watts
August 10, 2015 12:47 pm

Remember Hinkley California? So much groundwater contamination there decimated the town.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
August 10, 2015 12:56 pm

Dreadnaught, the nasties are there. For sure lead, arsenic, and cadmium. The local Durango folks have been worried about this mine leaking for years (50-250 gallons per day) and had the analyses.

Samuel C. Cogar
Reply to  Anthony Watts
August 11, 2015 10:15 am

despite the garish yellow colour of the sediment.

When that breech is plugged to stop the “outflow” of that acid mine drainage …… don’t be surprise iffen the river channel looks like this for sometime thereafter, to wit:comment image

Alan Robertson
Reply to  phaedo
August 10, 2015 11:57 am

Yes, upstream of about everything on the Colorado River, including Lake Powell, upstream from Lake Meade.
Woe be to Durango.

usurbrain
Reply to  phaedo
August 10, 2015 12:15 pm

ANd just what does this do to the drinking water supply for essentially everyone in the Southeast USA? Last I heard, even LA gets most of their water from the Colorado River.

george e. smith
Reply to  usurbrain
August 10, 2015 1:47 pm

Last time I checked, LA was n the South Western United States. I don’t think the Colorado River flows to the South East.

Ged
Reply to  usurbrain
August 10, 2015 6:01 pm

@george
The Colorado river feeds Lake Mead https://www.google.com/maps/place/Colorado+River/@36.1448599,-113.5370016,9z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x8737e89b70298547:0x165dff811dd0901e , and thus, yes, LA.
Remember, the Great Miami River is -not- in Florida. Don’t conflate river names with location.

Boulder Skeptic
Reply to  usurbrain
August 10, 2015 9:12 pm

George,
I think I see the source of your confusion. “usurbrain” intended LA to be Los Angeles, CA (which does take some water from the Colorado River). You must have taken LA to mean Louisiana (which is indeed the postal designation for that state).
Bruce

Boulder Skeptic
Reply to  usurbrain
August 10, 2015 9:16 pm

George,
Oh, my bad. I read the comments too quickly. Now I see that “usurbrain” mistakenly said “Southeast USA” rather than “Southwest USA”.
Never mind. Now I understand your comment.

Reply to  phaedo
August 10, 2015 12:40 pm

It first drains into the San Juan river which goes into Lake Powell, which is NE of the Grand Canyon and of course drains through the Grand Canyon into Lake Mead. So all that water will be affected…

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
August 10, 2015 2:32 pm

The solution to pollution is dilution. Lake Powell is pretty darn big compared to3 million gallons of metal contaminated water.

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
August 10, 2015 5:18 pm

Ah Lake Mead feeds Las Vegas. They are finishing up a new feeder tunnel to draw water Its set as low to the bottom of the lake as possible.
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/7cb3a24498bf4de3857b94d3dd333649/las-vegas-completing-last-straw-draw-lake-mead-water
I guess I’ll drive over to Bullhead City in a few days and have a look. Sigh.
michael

Menicholas
Reply to  phaedo
August 10, 2015 5:47 pm

Leaking since the 1920s.
I wonder what is or is not being done to stop the 580 GPM flow into the river?
So all of this will wind up in Lake Powell, and since the Glen Canyon dam is a major source of power for the region, and a major source of irrigation water, and is also the main source of flow for the lower Colorado River…it will not be possible to simply shut of the flow from Lake Powell, I wonder what the turnover time for the various dams on this river system is? 10 years? 20? 50?
If this is ionic suspension, rather than sediment, it will not just settle out…will it?
I think they need to do whatever can be done to try and neutralize this flow before it reaches Lake Powell and is diluted.
Perhaps dumping chelating agent by the multi-ton load into the river at the leading edge of the contamination.
Do it fast.

Alan Robertson
August 10, 2015 11:42 am

This is the same EPA which denies small landholders the use of their own property if water is slow to drain during a rain, by calling the puddle “wetlands” which must be “protected” and all of this in contravention of the “takings clause” of the US Constitution. There is no help for you if beavers build a dam and back water up on your place, as you just lost your rights to graze, or build a structure, or to use the land and that which surrounds it for any of your own purposes.

August 10, 2015 11:43 am

President Barack Obama insisted at the weekend: ‘BP is responsible for this leak. BP will be paying the bill’.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said yesterday: ‘We will keep our boot on the throat of BP to ensure that they’re doing all that they, all that is necessary, while we do all that is humanly possible to deal with this incident.’
What is he saying about this ecological disaster?……….crickets…..

Ben of Houston
Reply to  co2fan
August 10, 2015 1:39 pm

You want to know something more blood-boiling?
Given the Cradle-to-Grave requirement, the owner of the mine is legally liable for all the damage caused by the EPA spill.
The actions of third parties, up to and including crimes and fraud committed against the generator, do not absolve the generator from any liability for their waste. The EPA can legally bill the owner of the mine for all cleanup and give THEM a multi-billion dollar fine for this. Given this agency, they might try actually do it.
RCRA’s a nasty law, especially if you get on the wrong side of it with something that cannot be burned.

Hugh
Reply to  Ben of Houston
August 12, 2015 5:34 am

You can’t be serious. If they try to do that, they’ll be dead by defunding.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  co2fan
August 10, 2015 1:53 pm

I know what he will say…that Republicans underfunded the EPA and led to this mess.

Just Steve
August 10, 2015 11:46 am

Regarding the headline:
No
No
We return to our regularly scheduled war on coal.

Betapug
August 10, 2015 11:46 am

Would have thought this ideal comedy material for the final of Jon Stewart’s Daily “faux news” show….the one that so many US Millennials trust as “reliable” news.
Nope. Maybe the revelation that Stewart met regularly with Obama had something to do with it. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/jon-stewart-secretly-visited-barack-obama-in-white-house-20150728

Harold
August 10, 2015 11:47 am

Ask Richard Windsor. He’ll know what to do.

PiperPaul
Reply to  Harold
August 10, 2015 4:22 pm

Maybe John C. Beale can be called it, this looks like a big enough problem.

D.I.
August 10, 2015 11:49 am
Harold
Reply to  D.I.
August 10, 2015 11:56 am

“Colorado Parks and Wildlife has indicated they are optimistic that the effects of the spill on terrestrial wildlife will be minimal.”
You don’t say.

James Francisco
Reply to  Harold
August 10, 2015 12:44 pm

Apparently the magnitude of the effects is determined by who is paying the damages.

george e. smith
Reply to  D.I.
August 10, 2015 1:49 pm

Rong End !

jvcstone
August 10, 2015 11:50 am

Another in a long line of incompetent federal bureaucracies. Of course they should be shut down, but as with the TSA (which failed to detect bombs and weapons 90% of the time in unannounced tests) the EPA instead will most likely demand more taxpayer money to improve their incompetency level.

Just Steve
Reply to  jvcstone
August 10, 2015 12:01 pm

Liberalism 101: they never fail, they just need more time and more money.

Hugh
Reply to  Just Steve
August 12, 2015 5:37 am

No, it is not liberalism, it is socialism. Liberalism means you are free to use your money and buy what you want, even if I don’t like it. Socialism is this endless series of expensive failures for the common good caused by ‘somebody else’ and with the promise ‘next time it will work out’.
Repeat after me: greens are not liberal, they are socialists; greens are not liberal, they are socialists; greens are not liberal, they are socialists; greens are not liberal, they are socialists…

Leonard Lane
Reply to  jvcstone
August 10, 2015 12:06 pm

jvcstone. EPA asking for more money to clean up the mess they caused is a certainty. It is also a certainty that they will find someone else to blame, fine, sue, etc.. Now they have the opportunity to ask for hundreds of missions of dollars for a long term monitoring and rehabilitation project on the Animas river. An ill wind always blows favorably for a self-justifying (through fraud and lies) monster agency. Although the pollution will undoubtedly reach Lake Powell and Lake Mead, I doubt that EPA will ever mention it. Unless of course if they find it politically and financially useful.
EPA is a rouge monster ripping and slashing Constitutional law in America.

James Francisco
Reply to  jvcstone
August 10, 2015 12:56 pm

The same kind of incompetent boobs want to run our heath care system. They are doing such a great job for our military and veterans/sarc. Maybe we deserve the same crappy treatment, we elected these boobs. I would just like to say to all our officials — Please don’t help us anymore!

Reply to  James Francisco
August 10, 2015 1:39 pm

The same incompetent boobs want to solve all of the world,s problems.

KTM
Reply to  James Francisco
August 10, 2015 4:16 pm

Their utopia is the rest of our dystopia.

Reply to  James Francisco
August 10, 2015 5:38 pm

I think mark Twain said.”Politicians are like diapers and need to be changed often, and for the same reason”

Ed
Reply to  James Francisco
August 11, 2015 6:45 pm

The article concludes by saying that the EPA went ahead with the project “…seemingly without local expertise.” Or anyone else’s. apparently.

Harrowsceptic
Reply to  jvcstone
August 10, 2015 1:11 pm

Sounds a bit like the Environment Agency here in the UK. It slavishly followed EU rules regarding the Somerset Levels here in the SW of thecountry. These rules totally disregarded local advice on the need to dredge the water channels so lo and behold as a result there were devastating floods during the 2013 – 2014 winter. About 17,000 acres of farmland were flooded, with one village abandonded and several more totally cut off. But, of course, the Environment Agency was not to blame – it was a “natural event”. Fhe flood waters only started to recede after they brought in huge pumps from the Netherlands, who, of course, have a great deal of experience in managing low lying flood prone areas.

Reply to  Harrowsceptic
August 10, 2015 1:38 pm

Wrote that sad saga up as essay Somerset Levels because Julia Slingo of UK Met tried to blame it on climate change.

indefatigablefrog
Reply to  Harrowsceptic
August 11, 2015 12:34 am

Even now, the Environment Agency has only been forced to maintain/dredge two meagre 4 mile sections of the Parrett and Tone. Formerly the entire system of drains was maintained continually.
And for good reason. The channels are man-made and carry water from uplands across the levels. The extremely low gradient and low flow velocity of the channels allows for high deposition of silt. Constant maintenance is unfortunately a design prerequisite.
No use leaving such a system to nature – since it isn’t natural. It is a man made engineering project and should be treated as such.
I believe that somewhere in the region of £10 million was spent on the 8 mile dredging program.
Although I suspect that that includes about £9.5 million for consultation and vole counting, and then £500K for the diggers and manpower.
The concern now, should be, what about the rest of the Somerset drainage system that is in the hands of the EA.
I think that we need to rephrase the protest – “give the Somerset rivers back to the people of Somerset”.
Why were the fools at the EA ever handed this power to destroy the Somerset environment.
The local drainage boards charged drainage rates and maintained this system without fault for decades before the EA came in and buggered everything up.
Anyway, only 8 miles have been dredged so, expect more floods downstream of the catastrophe of 2014.
If they had really learned then they would have reinstated the dredging barges, which they scrapped in the 1990’s – and dredged the entire length of all the major channels, starting at the sea and working inland.
Over time, this would have been the most cost effective approach.
However, the EA now has a taste for the profitability of disaster…

Neo
August 10, 2015 12:01 pm

I wonder if the EPA got a permit form the EPA for this discharge

Menicholas
Reply to  Neo
August 10, 2015 6:30 pm

I think the EPA should arrest the EPA and suspend their mandate to oversee environmental issues.

Erik Magnuson
Reply to  Menicholas
August 10, 2015 7:43 pm

A lot of environmental laws do not have a criminal intent clause, so several of the people in the EPA could be facing serious prison time.

August 10, 2015 12:02 pm

I agree the EPA needs to be taken in tow but disasters like this are dangerous in other ways to that goal, Some nit wit in Washington will suggest that we need to create a “super” bureaucracy to oversee EPA, Corps of Engineers, BLM, Fish and Wildlife…just as homeland security is to federal law enforcement.

Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 12:05 pm

Nope, big raises to all. It’s the Solyndra exec bonus effect and IRS/VA effect.

Just Steve
Reply to  Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 1:22 pm

Another liberal mantra…fail upwards!!

D.J. Hawkins
Reply to  Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 4:39 pm

The polite rendition is: “Screw up and move up”.

Jimmy
August 10, 2015 12:06 pm

From a Fox News story on the matter:
“David Ostrander, an EPA spokesman, said last week the agency is taking responsibility for the incident. “We typically respond to emergencies, we don’t cause them, but this is just something that happens when we are dealing with mines sometimes,” Ostander said.” (Source: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/08/10/navajo-nation-aims-to-sue-epa-over-devastating-mining-spill/?intcmp=hpbt3)
Can you imagine the uproar if a mining company caused a contamination a fraction the size of this one, and their spokesperson made an official statement along the lines of, “This is just something that happens when we are mining sometimes.”

trafamadore
Reply to  Jimmy
August 10, 2015 1:30 pm

“Can you imagine the uproar if a mining company caused a contamination a fraction the size of this one”
Actually, the mining company WAS the cause. Just not the immediate cause.
Just saying…

Reply to  trafamadore
August 10, 2015 3:22 pm

No, the EPA was the cause. They even admitted it.

trafamadore
Reply to  trafamadore
August 10, 2015 4:00 pm

So this would have happened if the mining company had designed the mine in a responsible manner? I think not. The mine is indirectly responsible.

Menicholas
Reply to  trafamadore
August 10, 2015 5:53 pm

This mine closed almost 100 years ago.

Reply to  trafamadore
August 10, 2015 6:55 pm

trafamadore has no understanding of the Constitution.

trafamadore
Reply to  trafamadore
August 10, 2015 7:06 pm

dbstealey: “trafamadore has no understanding of the Constitution.”
You must mean this one, from the de facto bill of rights:
Article 3.5: capitalists have the right to wreck the landscape and the taxpayers must pay to clean up the mess.
True enuf. You must be right! Good one.

Reply to  trafamadore
August 10, 2015 7:08 pm

U.S. Constitution: Article I, Section 10, Clause 1.

papiertigre
Reply to  trafamadore
August 10, 2015 11:08 pm

Ex post facto
ex post facto adj. Formulated, enacted, or operating retroactively. [Med Lat., from what is done afterwards] Source: AHD
In U.S. Constitutional Law, the definition of what is ex post facto is more limited. The first definition of what exactly constitutes an ex post facto law is found in Calder v Bull (3 US 386 [1798]), in the opinion of Justice Chase:
1st. Every law that makes an action done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal; and punishes such action. 2d. Every law that aggravates a crime, or makes it greater than it was, when committed. 3d. Every law that changes the punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment, than the law annexed to the crime, when committed. 4th. Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence, and receives less, or different, testimony, than the law required at the time of the commission of the offense, in order to convict the offender.

Jimmy
Reply to  trafamadore
August 11, 2015 7:10 am

The mining company created a mess, I won’t dispute that. However, they kept the mess contained. It was the EPA who mishandled the mess and caused it pollute the streams.
And my bigger point was the ridiculousness of the EPA’s statement that this was just something that happens sometimes.

Reply to  trafamadore
August 11, 2015 8:16 am

Ex post facto

The prohibition against ex post facto penalties applies to criminal punishments. OTW the Superfund law would have been held unconstitutional.

Phil R
Reply to  trafamadore
August 11, 2015 10:05 am

By your logic, G*d (or Gaia) was the ultimate cause, because if he (or she) had not put the mountains there, there would not have been any mining.
In fact, one could take your stupid logic to any extreme for almost any situation in an effort to avoid responsibility. If a drunk driver gets in a wreck and kills somebody, he’s not responsible. He wouldn’t be drunk if companies didn’t make alcoholic beverages (and yeasts didn’t convert sugars to alcohol), and he wouldn’t be driving if car companies didn’t make cars.
The EPA was the cause of the spill.

Phil R
Reply to  trafamadore
August 11, 2015 10:08 am

Sorry, way down the list and maybe confusing. the response was to trafamadore.

Theo Barker
Reply to  trafamadore
August 11, 2015 11:59 am

trafamadore, Perhaps if your family had deep roots in that region, you might have a different view. I am intimately familiar with the geography around there. The EPA caused all of the problems in question.

Hugh
Reply to  trafamadore
August 12, 2015 5:45 am

“Actually, the mining company WAS the cause. Just not the immediate cause.”
Just continue jumping through hoops to make this a private sector accident. It is rather entertaining. (oops, replying to a troll. *hitting oneself at fingers with a stick*)

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  Jimmy
August 10, 2015 9:39 pm

trafamadore I believe dbstealey is referencing the Ex Post Facto Law As well “Impairing the Obligations of Contracts”
And he is correct, they support his statements.
michael
Oh and db, I also took constitution Law.

Reply to  Mike the Morlock
August 11, 2015 10:32 am

Mike,
The Constitution is clear and explicit in Art. 1, Sec. 9. It makes no distinction regarding “criminal” actions. In only a dozen words it clearly states:
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
If the mine was operating legally and according to the regulations in effect at the time it closed, the owners were not at fault. Period. There are many thousands of abandoned mines in the country. The only reason this disaster happened was because of the EPA’s deliberate malfeasance.
Some of the specious logic seen above would also apply to the descendants of slave owners who never oned a slave, but who would presumably be required pay compensation to people who were never slaves themselves, for doing something that was legal and accepted at the time…
…oh, wait. They’re still trying that end run around the Constitution.
The EPA is muddying the waters in more ways than one. They would love to have people discussing a century old mine, instead of discussing their personal culpability — which was clearly predicted. The constitutional question is simply a red herring argument, intended to distract from what appears to be deliberate EPA sabotage of the environment.
EPA bureaucrats are treated very differently from everyone in private industry. Would some of their apologists like to explain that discrepancy? And where does the buck stop? Who was the EPA decision maker? That person should at the very least be out of a job. If not, why not?

MarkW
Reply to  Mike the Morlock
August 11, 2015 4:52 pm

According to liberals, private citizens and companies have a legal obligation not only to be perfect, but to be able to predict the results of their actions with 100% accuracy hundreds of years into the future.
On the other hand, no matter how badly govt messes up, it’s always the private sector’s fault.

Samuel C. Cogar
Reply to  Mike the Morlock
August 12, 2015 9:39 am

@ dbstealey August 11, 2015 at 10:32 am

If the mine was operating legally and according to the regulations in effect at the time it closed, the owners were not at fault.

HA, tell that to the Hooker Chemical Co. in regard to Love Canal.
Hooker Chemical involuntarily sold the site (Love Canal) to the Niagara Falls School Board in 1953 for $1, with a deed detailing the presence of dangerous chemical wastes and including a liability limitation clause about the contamination.[1] Long after having taken control of the land the School Board proceeded to have it developed, including construction activity that substantially breached containment structures in a number of ways, allowing previously trapped chemicals to seep out. The resulting breaches combined with particularly heavy rainstorms released and spread the chemical waste, leading to a public health emergency and an urban planning scandal. In what became a test case for liability clauses Hooker Chemical was found to be “negligent” in their disposal of waste, though not reckless in the sale of the land.
Read more @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Canal

Reply to  Mike the Morlock
August 12, 2015 10:08 am

Samuel Cogar,
Not the same thing. Clearly Hooker knew that the Love Canal site was a major liability, since they included a clause trying to absolve themselves of liability.
But there are many thousands of century old abandoned mines in the country (the U.S. Geological Survey office in Menlo Park, California, provides detailed maps showing numerous abandoned mines). The sort of liability you cite regarding Love Canal is not the same as somemone digging a mine in what was a wilderness.
If we are to judge all past actions the same way, then we would have no choice but to return the continental U.S. to native Americans.
The EPA just loves these distractions. The last thing they want is for people to start asking where the buck stops; who made the final decision to unleash the conaminants along a hundred miles of rivers, and why must taxpayers foot the entire bill? Because the most rational and productive outcome would be for EPA head McCarthy to become unemployed due to this avoidable disaster on her watch. That would go a long way toward making sure this sort of thing would become much less likely in future, no?

Samuel C. Cogar
Reply to  Mike the Morlock
August 13, 2015 9:18 am

dbstealey,
Did you notice this statement, to wit:
“Hooker Chemical involuntarily sold the site
Hooker refused to sell the SB the property …. and only did so after they were pressured by the SB and the citizens and then only when the SB gave them a written agreement that the property would only be used as a playground and/or park and no construction would ever occur on it.
But the SB decided to sell it to “housing developers” and reaped million of dollars in doing so. But no Judge or jury will convict a School Board and force them to pay tens of millions in damages because it will be “your tax money” they will be expending.
It was Politically Correct to make Hooker pay.

Reply to  Mike the Morlock
August 13, 2015 11:58 am

Samuel,
Sad to hear that. When something is politically correct these days, it seems the Constitution is ignored.

timg56
August 10, 2015 12:06 pm

I think the most interesting aspect (and the one most likely to be open to criticism) is the apparent ignoring of the local community group. Perhaps the “We are with the government and are here to help you. Now get out of the way and do as we tell you.” syndrome.

KTM
Reply to  timg56
August 10, 2015 4:23 pm

Reminds me of the last government shutdown when the Obama administration decided to barricade open air monuments just to spite anyone that might dare walk through during the standoff. Here in Utah the local communities begged the feds to allow them to keep the national parks open using their own local dollars but the Obama administration refused.
The entire premise behind taking federal ownership in the first place was to guarantee that these national wonders would remain open to everyone. But at the first little hiccup they bar the gates. If they can’t be trusted to do what they claim to do they have no reason to exist. Let Colorado regulate their own mines, and tell the epa to take a hike.

Ed
Reply to  KTM
August 11, 2015 7:00 pm

I remember that. There was zero cost to the govt. to keep them open but a point had to be made, and so they were closed. The feds barricaded (among other things) the WWII Memorial on the national mall, but many of the old vets were there for their first (and probably last) visit ever. The old vets pushed aside the barricades and went in anyway to pay their respects to their fallen brothers. The next day the feds had chained together and padlocked all the barricades. Hey, no 90-year-old D-Day survivor gets to dis the prezzy and get away with it.

Reply to  timg56
August 10, 2015 4:24 pm

Yes. That is a huge aspect. The local community had knowledge, mineral assays, and had been working on this. All ignored by the EPA. BIG Government on full display downthread.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  timg56
August 11, 2015 12:23 am

Sure, do you have an expert local community group to oversee the lessening of pain when a dentist extracts a tooth, an expert local community group to report worn tires on cars, an expert local community group to take away babies from mothers said to be feeding them improperly — and so on and so on.
I’d suggest that you leave it to the experts. Or are you Ralph Nader writing incognito?

KTM
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
August 11, 2015 10:38 am

My car tires have to pass a yearly safety inspection, mandated by the state and conducted by a high school dropout at the local tire shop. I don’t have to book a time for a federal Dept of Transportation inspector to come by and approve them.
Many Americans can’t afford to have dental work in this country anymore, and dental “tourism” is booming. Why pay an American dentist $50,000 for the same work you can get done for $1,500 in a Mexican border town?
The sad part is that sickly Mexicans are flooding across the border to the north to get free medical care in US hospitals, while Americans are crossing the border to the south to get affordable care from mexican doctors and dentists.

MarkW
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
August 11, 2015 4:54 pm

Because some actions don’t need to be overseen by an “expert local community group” is not evidence that no actions need to be overseen by such groups.
Basic logic, maybe you should try it.

RD
August 10, 2015 12:07 pm

This is the kind of real environmental disaster one might expect EPA to prevent. Devastating incompetence.

August 10, 2015 12:08 pm

What, this spill never happened.
A committee will be struck by the EPA to investigate the actions of the EPA.
For the rest of us, it is business as usual; Good Enough For Government.
Remember when these bureaucrats extort the return on your labour and then use it to do massive damage, its called Investing in your future.
Just another fine buzzword from the progressive parasites, investment to be substituted for infestation?

Reply to  john robertson
August 10, 2015 1:44 pm

I’ll bet the hardrives have already crashed, the emails lost, the backup tapes erased, and that Gina is talking to her minions in Colorado via ‘Richard Windsor’.

Reply to  ristvan
August 11, 2015 2:45 pm

Was John Beale the one that signed-off on the mine for the EPA?

usurbrain
August 10, 2015 12:11 pm

To have even attempted to mess with any existing dam without an approved dam/containment downstream is insane. But wait, the EPA would have approved that containment. And they were doing the work, and they know what they are doing, and they don’t need any stinking EPA approval they are the EPA.
But I think it is much simpler than that they wanted more control and this was just supposed to be a minor incident (like they said at first) to demonstrate exactly why they need more control – all the way up river to the water coming out of your downspout and running into a sometimes creek.
Guarantee they will AMP-UP all existing “waterway” regulations providing an order of magnitude increase in number and requirements before the “problem” is resolved.

Reply to  usurbrain
August 10, 2015 12:59 pm

Yes. You know you have leakage through the mine entrance backfill. That means you know there is water backed up behind the ‘plug’. Not to have built a containment cofferdam before futzing with the entrance backfill is criminal negligence.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  ristvan
August 11, 2015 12:27 am

What do you do with the water that then fills the coffer dam? Release it slowly into a nearby river? It will probably get there by itself over a long period.
Water is a really difficult material to contain and control in large volumes over long times.

Reply to  ristvan
August 11, 2015 2:49 pm

The water must be cleaned and treated before it is released.
How much does it cost for a dedicated new sewage plant to process the waste?

MarkW
Reply to  ristvan
August 11, 2015 4:56 pm

Geoff, water is hard to contain, therefore don’t even bother.
Do you really believe that the EPA would let a private contractor get away with that excuse?

TonyL
Reply to  usurbrain
August 10, 2015 2:23 pm

Interesting, an engineered minor spill for political gain that got away from them. The fellow upthread is right, the hard drives have already crashed.

usurbrain
Reply to  TonyL
August 10, 2015 2:29 pm

And there is an Editorial, predating the event, from a local paper down thread explaining more. Smell worse than a rat, more like a skunk.

Harold
August 10, 2015 12:11 pm

It was caused by a youtube. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Reply to  Harold
August 11, 2015 2:50 pm

Now that’s funny.

beng135
August 10, 2015 12:11 pm

Notice how the media plays softball w/the EPA — oh, it’s no big deal….
What if one of the evil coal or oil companies had caused this? Hordes of paid greenies would be converging on the town to protest.

usurbrain
Reply to  beng135
August 10, 2015 12:20 pm

Didn’t that coal “cleaning”company ed p paying for lodging and many other expenses over a spill of “toxic solution,” (as declared by the EPA at the time), that was later found to be no worse than bath soap.

Reply to  usurbrain
August 10, 2015 10:01 pm

If it is of any consolation, mine waste often contains heavy metal bound up as Sulphides. These dont tend to leach or become soluble at the stated pH. Most likely suspended solids that will find their way to the bottom and just end up as a layer of sediment. Eventually covered with natural sediment, rendering the whole thing quite harmless in the long run. Or maybe not, there is not enough information in the article.

Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 12:14 pm

EPA was much better at standing around acting mad or getting in the way of the BP gulf oil spill effort. Getting their hands dirty shows just how incompetent they really are. They better stick with fraud science and made up numbers back at headquarters next time. This engineering work is hard and totally disrupts the media manipulation program.

August 10, 2015 12:15 pm

If this was in the UK there would be promotions and big bonuses all round. After all, they only spilled 1.1million gallons – it could have been far worse and they prevented a much larger spill.

August 10, 2015 12:17 pm

this local resident predicted this in a newspaper editorial…comment image

spetzer86
Reply to  Steve Erdahl
August 10, 2015 1:56 pm

Damn. The EPA should hire somebody like this guy. It appears he really called it.

richardscourtney
Reply to  spetzer86
August 11, 2015 4:19 am

spetzer86:
You say;

The EPA should hire somebody like this guy. It appears he really called it.

Yes, but it was not difficult for Dave Taylor to have “called it”.
There have been many such events caused in exactly the same way as Dave Taylor describes; for example, we here in Falmouth, Cornwall, UK, remember the 1992 pollution into the Fal estuary from the disused Wheal Jane mine that was exactly as described by Dave Taylor.
The only good thing is that the Fal recovered much more quickly than anyone anticipated.
Richard

TonyL
Reply to  Steve Erdahl
August 10, 2015 2:29 pm

It was deliberate.

Reply to  TonyL
August 10, 2015 3:30 pm

Yes, it was obviously deliberate. If a retired geologist could predict exactly what would happen, then the EPA had to know, too.
Officers of a taxpaying business who did this would spend time in the penitentiary. Why should EPA bureaucrats be exempt?

ferdberple
Reply to  TonyL
August 10, 2015 5:07 pm

It was deliberate.
==============
see. we told you we needed a bigger budget. we didn’t have a big enough team to do the job right.

Theo Barker
Reply to  Steve Erdahl
August 11, 2015 12:03 pm

THANK YOU Steve for posting that image of the letter.

Hugh
Reply to  Steve Erdahl
August 12, 2015 5:52 am

This is beyond unbelievable. Did EPA have any chance of succeeding?

Bob Koss
Reply to  Steve Erdahl
August 12, 2015 7:14 am

According to the link below that editorial appeared in the print edition on July 30th. Couldn’t find it in the online edition.
http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2015/08/letter-to-editor-predicted-colorado-epa-spill-one-week-before-catastrophe-so-epa-could-secure-superfund-cash/

oeman50
August 10, 2015 12:18 pm

This isn’t the pollution you are looking for, move along.

Tom Austin
August 10, 2015 12:18 pm

They had the balls to post signs in the affected area reading in part, “We ask that citizens stay out of the river water until the discoloration has passed” If this was a private firm, there would be front page headlines claiming the environment will be damaged for 100 years and arguing for more ‘help’ and regulation from the EPA.

ShrNfr
August 10, 2015 12:20 pm

They just need a new slogan: “Come to Colorado, where even the rivers run with gold.”

August 10, 2015 12:20 pm

If the EPA is fined, taxpayers pay.
If the EPA is not fined, taxpayers pay.

Resourceguy
Reply to  Slywolfe
August 10, 2015 12:30 pm

And if EPA gets hefty raises like IRS and VA, taxpayers also pay.

Reply to  Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 12:52 pm

There seems to be a trend here…

James Francisco
Reply to  Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 1:04 pm

Then how about just deducting the damages from all EPA employees and the Prez or POTUS.

Auto
Reply to  Resourceguy
August 11, 2015 11:39 am

Slywolfe,
And even if EPA-ites [minor functionaries, no doubt, not Richard Windsor!] do prison time – guess – taxpayers pay!
Who would have thought that might eventuate?!
Auto

MarkW
Reply to  Resourceguy
August 11, 2015 5:00 pm

I’d be willing to cough up the cost a bullet for a summary execution following conviction.

Pro_GMO
August 10, 2015 12:20 pm

For pete’s sake stop all this complaining. It’s OK to create a little pollution in the name of progress and in a couple of years no body will remember this except the greenies. Nature will fix this just like it has done with the big Gulf oil spill a few years ago. If you want to get pissed ask yourself this: Why didn’t the original operators of the mine clean this up when the mine played out in the first place? Easy to point fingers at the EPA (funded by our tax dollars) instead of the people who created the problem to begin with. Considering the thousands of abandoned mining sites around the country this story will likely be repeated over and over. Turns out there is a program call Self Bonding that lets miners avoid holding reserve funds or insurance to clean up their mines when they close so maybe we should start by repealing Self Bonding rules.

benofhouston
Reply to  Pro_GMO
August 10, 2015 2:00 pm

Well, the problem is that this is heavy metal contamination. You can’t treat metals. You can just remove them and put them somewhere forever. The original owner fulfilled their obligation by putting the metals in the mine, and their efforts and the result were approved by the agency. Then, years later, a small leak developed and the agency went in with a half-baked plan that gave catastrophic results.

Reply to  Pro_GMO
August 10, 2015 2:00 pm

Maybe we should dig up the bones of the original operators and interrogate them. The history of the mines is an interesting read…http://www.miningartifacts.org/Colorado-Mines.html
This disaster is all about the EPA. If the government wants to see good results, then they should award the task to private industry. I would much rather see the several tens of billions of dollars a year, which are now committed to CAGW, go to take care of environmental problems from our mining past.

ferdberple
Reply to  goldminor
August 10, 2015 5:11 pm

If the government wants to see good results, then they should award the task to private industry.
=================
exactly. why didn’t the EPA contract this out? they have a conflict of interest if they are both measuring contamination and cleaning it up. there is a temptation for the EPA to fudge the figures if they do the cleanup. the EPA managers will order their employees to find the EPA did a wonderful job.

Reply to  ferdberple
August 11, 2015 8:37 am

Reading comments of some who obviously know a good deal about mines, the consensus amongst them was that the EPA had failed at what should have been a mining 101 problem. Drill a hole in the plug to ascertain the height of the water in the tunnel, before attempting to open that tunnel. That sounds to me like a very practical common sense procedure. Evidently, the EPA has a hard time dealing with common sense problems.

ferdberple
Reply to  goldminor
August 10, 2015 5:12 pm

no matter how bad a job the EPA does, will the EPA write a report saying they did a bad job?

Menicholas
Reply to  goldminor
August 10, 2015 6:11 pm

Exactly Goldminor. This mine closed in the 1920s.
People commenting should at least get the bare bones before opining on who is to blame.

Reply to  Menicholas
August 11, 2015 8:31 am

Actually, the mine was last worked in 1991 by the Sunnyside Mining group. They are the ones who dug the American Tunnel, which is the one that the EPA broke into. Sunnyside set up a water treatment plant after they closed the mine. They then set up and funded another company to manage the treatment plant, and that also allowed them to end their cleanup obligations to the mine. In further reading, it is said that the treatment plant was successful at improving downstream, stream and river conditions over the years of operation, until they ran out of money to maintain the plant. To my mind here is where the government lets everyone down. Why wouldn’t the government come to the aid of the treatment plant to have kept it functioning? Downstream conditions worsened again after the closing of the treatment plant. Where was the EPA back then?

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  Pro_GMO
August 10, 2015 2:04 pm

Dude the mine closed in 1923. What regs governed cleanup?

Menicholas
Reply to  Pro_GMO
August 10, 2015 6:23 pm

“For pete’s sake stop all this complaining. It’s OK to create a little pollution in the name of progress and in a couple of years no body will remember this except the greenies. Nature will fix this just like it has done with the big Gulf oil spill a few years ago”
Is it possible for a person to be as clueless as you are making yourself out to be?
A few facts:
– BP and an army of cleanup experts and volunteers worked for years to clean up oil and tar balls, everywhere from the bottom of the Gulf to the beaches hundreds of miles away. This included skimmers, booms to contain and absorb oil, dispersants and detergents to help the natural degradation process, etc.
Oil has a large fraction which can be readily digested by microorganisms in the gulf, and a portion of the oil will simply evaporate.
The amount spent to clean up and mitigate the damage is in the multiple billions and counting.
To state that nature fixed it is really unbelievable.
-Oil is oil. It is a mixture of organic compounds, many of which are volatile and all of which can be degraded by chemical and biological processes. None of these things are true of heavy metal pollution.
heavy metal contamination is bad enough when contained, or drifting slowly through groundwater or old mine shafts and tunnels.
Let loose into a river which is teaming with fish and other wildlife, is a source of drinking and irrigation water for a significant portion of the population of the entire country, and which is a popular recreational destination besides, makes this a disaster which will just keep giving.
Stop complaining?
Are you insane?

sceptic56109
Reply to  Menicholas
August 11, 2015 11:40 am

That BP oil spill could have been capped in 3 weeks. In fact, when I saw the ridiculous “top hat” apparatus, I was amazed. But when I saw a submersible cutting pipe away from the defective blow-out preventer, I had to tell someone what the solution was. I emailed Neil Cavuto at Fox News and suggested that if the submersible can cut pipe, Obviously it can take the bolts out of the flange visible in the video and bolt on something appropriate. Three weeks later a primitive arrangement (without proper venting valves) called “top hat 2” was bolted on. This BP disaster was possibly engineered.

Mike Maguire
August 10, 2015 12:21 pm

At one time, the EPA helped us clean up real pollution. Today’s corrupted EPA is more concerned with a power grab and other agenda that is counter to it’s reason for existence. They continue to impose unjustified, harmful regulations with impunity in many realms, making their own rules.
This is what they did to photosynthesis, Instead of:
Sunshine +H2O +CO2 +Minerals = O2 +Sugars(food) according to the EPA, we have:
Sunshine +H20 +Pollution +Minerals = O2 +Sugars(food)
http://patriotpost.us/posts/35663
http://junkscience.com/2012/03/04/epa-science-advisors-not-so-independent/

Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 12:21 pm

Where are the drones and newsroom helicopter shots and CNN live coverage?

Jeff in Calgary
August 10, 2015 12:22 pm

Obviously a disaster. I am not trying to down play the significance. Has anyone seen an analysis of the down stream effects? As the contamination is deluted as it moves down stream, how far will the toxin levels be hazardous?

Resourceguy
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
August 10, 2015 12:32 pm

I think you mean how deep as in sediment, because that is where it goes.

Patrick Bols
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
August 10, 2015 12:48 pm

And what about the long term effects off all this acid and heavy metals on the aquatic and other life? How will it spread into the eco system? What a great opportunity for eco researchers to get more grants from the government

Jimmy
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
August 10, 2015 1:32 pm

The EPA has tested the water, but they won’t release the numbers until they’re good and ready. From the Denver Post (http://www.denverpost.com/environment/ci_28608746/epas-colorado-mine-disaster-plume-flows-west-toward):
Environmental Protection Agency regional chief Shaun McGrath on Saturday conceded that federal officials know the levels of the heavy metals in Cement Creek and the Animas River but would not reveal early testing results. “Those data sheets have not been finalized by the scientists,” McGrath said. “As soon as we are able to release them, we will.”

Resourceguy
Reply to  Jimmy
August 10, 2015 1:55 pm

Adjustments in process

Jeff in Calgary
August 10, 2015 12:28 pm

Just in… “Gov. Hickenlooper declares disaster emergency for Gold King Mine release”

Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 12:28 pm

And EPA has been giving the Navajos a hard time in recent years. Geez

Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 12:36 pm

There are whole square miles of that orange colored rock/clay in the San Juans. They just flushed it down the rivers all at once.

Reply to  Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 1:57 pm

What you are looking at is NOT orange clay. See comment downthread.

Gary Pearse
August 10, 2015 12:42 pm

Dump a large load of lime at the source first and precipitate the metals as insoluble hydroxides. Then liming the river just enough to make the pH~7 – there is wild life in and along the river to consider so too much might do more harm. The mine area should be grouted off and the water table drawn down by pumping into a lined, lime treatment pond. 4M gallons is 15,000cu m; 1200gpm is 270cu m/hr. Knowing the stream flow rate, the right amount of lime could be added to the river at the source of contamination but job one is to stop the contamination asap.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 10, 2015 12:47 pm

Re: downstream, if there is enough water in the system, it will be pretty diluted. Precautionary liming before the next town or two should be done NOW and of course, quick turnaround water assay sampling. I hope they aren’t planning to hold a meeting tomorrow to discuss it first.

Menicholas
Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 10, 2015 6:39 pm

Good thinking. I was having the same thought…it is easier to neutralize these materials while they are still concentrated, and doing it sooner minimizes the affected area. If mitigation and neutralization is not being done, the big question has got to be…why the hell not?
These are people who never lift a pencil before doing an impact study…unfortunately, by the time anything can be studied, it will be too late to do anything except study the contamination and damage.
What about cheating agents? Is it too dilute for those to help?
Is it possible to precipitate such materials in such volume is moving water?
Lime is fairly innocuous stuff, they should be doing it if it will help even a little.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 10, 2015 12:47 pm

The mine area should be grouted off and the water table drawn down by pumping into a lined, lime treatment pond.
Yes, but only with wind powered or solar powered pumps. Anything else would make climate change worse,
Feel badly for the people and wildlife involved, but couldn’t help make that one sarcastic comment. Cleanups of this kind of mess can only be accomplished at all because we have access to fossil fuel powered machinery.

EternalOptimist
August 10, 2015 12:46 pm

A polluted river will be a thing of the past. Our children will not know what a polluted river looks like

Resourceguy
Reply to  EternalOptimist
August 10, 2015 12:51 pm

Too bad it’s not a flammable river, but then EPA is working on it.

benofhouston
Reply to  Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 2:02 pm

Flammable would be easy. We can treat oil. Fire and biology can break down oil.
There’s much less that you can do with heavy metals.

Dobes
August 10, 2015 12:55 pm

Maybe if the EPA would focus on real pollution instead of taking their eye off the ball for the CO2 boogeyman, they would be focused enough not to cause a tragedy of this magnitude. This will make its way thru Lake Mead with only a final stop into the ocean. There will be no accountability, just scapegoats.

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  Dobes
August 10, 2015 1:05 pm

This will make it into Lake Mead and then the Las Vegas water supply, but probably no one in Vegas will notice, sounds sarcastic but I actually mean it, an awful lot of people in Vegas are just dense.

Taphonomic
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
August 10, 2015 3:04 pm

An awful lot of people outside of Las Vegas are just dense, sounds sarcastic but I actually mean it.
It has to get past Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam before it gets to the Grand Canyon and then to Lake Mead (and then on to Lake Mohave and Lake Havasu).

Stuart Jones
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
August 10, 2015 5:30 pm

A Lot of people within a 2000 mile radius of Vegas are dense It’s your EPA you are all responsible. What are you going to do about it? nothing I bet, sometimes you get what you deserve.

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
August 10, 2015 5:56 pm

Ah people Lake Powell is near full.
http://lakepowell.water-data.com/
and just for fun
http://www.glencanyon.org/media_center/gci-news
let the finger pointing begin.
michael

David A
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
August 11, 2015 4:13 am

Mike, your link says the reservoir is 87 feet below full pool, or less then 60 percent of capacity.

joelobryan
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
August 11, 2015 11:47 am

Lake Powell is a long, long way from full pool of 3700 feet. It still has 85 vertical feet to reach full pool. It will take 3-4 more years of well above ave rainfall/snowpack to get there.

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
August 13, 2015 9:47 pm

A better link to Lake Powell historical levels.
http://graphs.water-data.com/lakepowell/
July 29 2015 is only a few feet higher than it was this time last year and almost 50 feet lower than Sept 2011.

Menicholas
Reply to  Dobes
August 10, 2015 6:42 pm

“Maybe if the EPA would focus on real pollution instead of taking their eye off the ball for the CO2 boogeyman,”
This is exactly what I cannot stop thinking about.
While they wail and gnash teeth over a fictional problem, they are inept in the extreme in dealing with real issues, or even understanding the actual science of the imaginary problem.

Steve P
August 10, 2015 1:05 pm

It’s easy to pile on the EPA here for making a bad mistake, but what is being missed is that the EPA was trying to fix a mess that was left behind by irresponsible mine owners of the past, albeit probably going about it in the wrong way. Good comments on linked Denver Post article.
Colorado is has many abandoned mines leaking contanminated water into creeks, streams, and other waterways.

“Wednesday’s blowout, at the Gold King Mine in mountains above Silverton, showed the enormity of the problem of leaking old mines in Colorado and the West. Colorado natural resources officials overseeing old mines told The Denver Post they know of several hundred around the state leaking acid discharges into river headwaters. Cleanup has been done at about 9,000 abandoned mines, but the status of about 14,000 remains uncertain, said Bruce Stover, director of Colorado’s inactive mine reclamation program.”
–Denver Post

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  Steve P
August 10, 2015 4:41 pm

The mine has been closed since 1923. What would’ve been the appropriate “responsible” action from the mine owners?
They weren’t “fixing” anything…they were doing an investigation. Underestimating the spill by a factor of about 3, being slow with test results, proclaiming “nothing to see here,” etc, are big reasons to pile-on.

KTM
Reply to  Michael Jankowski
August 10, 2015 5:06 pm

The EPA could have taken a page from the Dark Ages by exhuming the remains of the perpetrators, having them burned, and then reburied, a la John Wycliffe.

Steve P
Reply to  Michael Jankowski
August 10, 2015 6:26 pm

“We have got to tackle these eventually,” Stover said. “(Gold King) is one of the mines we’ve been struggling with for years. We’re trying to figure out what is going on and how to fix it. This is a vexing problem. … Not everybody is on the same page.
[…]
EPA mine sight coordinator Hays Griswold, one of four workers at Gold King when an estimated 1 million or more gallons of orange acid water blew through a loose dirt barrier, said he had been working to install a pipe to drain rising water in the mine. That project, he said after the disaster, “couldn’t have worked. … Nobody expected the water to be that high.”

–Denver Post

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Steve P
August 11, 2015 12:37 am

Are there any official records or studies showing that this mine waste has harmed a person? It might look ugly, it might taste ugly, but does it really affect the health of people as the concentrations they will ingest?
The mines of the world, discovered or to be discovered, all have potential to add their load to Nature.
Is there an example of this Natural effluent ever harming anyone?

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
August 11, 2015 8:40 am

It’s not really “natural” if you dig tunnels through rock layers and create conduits for concentrated materials to bypass natural filtration or containment.
That aside, you also have the distinction between chronic (low-dose/long time) and acute (high-dose/short time) exposure. Acute is pretty rare, particularly with adequate monitoring.

Insufficiently Sensitive
Reply to  Steve P
August 12, 2015 10:11 am

what is being missed is that the EPA was trying to fix a mess that was left behind by irresponsible mine owners of the past
Don’t buy into that red herring. Past irresponsibility doesn’t trump the massive irresponsibility of the EPA minions who bought full responsibility by their mindless excavation without first determining the static elevation of the contained minewater. They broke it, and they bought it.

601nan
August 10, 2015 1:14 pm

Trouble with a Capital T.
“If the President does it … it’s OK.” [the Nixon Rule]
Queue the Music Man:

Ha ha

Taphonomic
Reply to  601nan
August 10, 2015 3:07 pm

Trouble, oh we got trouble,
Right here in River City!
With a capital “T”
That rhymes with “P”
And that stands for Pollution!

Bruce Cobb
August 10, 2015 1:21 pm

The EPA has passed its sell-by date. Time to let the states handle it.

Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 1:32 pm

Call in BP for help.

August 10, 2015 1:33 pm

There are two contamination problems. One is heavy metal bearing sediment, rock flour and the like. But hard rock metal mine waters are usually very acidic (e.g. from oxidative dissolution of iron pyrite and other sulfides, which creates sulfuric acid, which leaches any other metals present into solution). The downstream water discoloration is not yellow sediment. It is ‘yellow boy’. The main component is usually iron sulfide, which precipitates back out of solution as very fine nano particles when acid mine water pH is raised above 3. Iron pyrite’s finely precipitated color is yellow ‘fools gold’ without the pyrite glitter. The water is also full of completely dissolved other heavy metals, probably as both oxides and sulfides. Arsenic oxide dissolved in water is a deep orange, commonly discoloring acid mine seeps. Cadmium sulfide dissolved in water is bright yellow. Acid hard rock mine water (not just gold mines) is well studied, and a big problem. I just spent two hours studying up before commenting.
Take another look at the color and turbidity of the water. That is not sediment like in the muddy Mississippi. It is much, much worse–yellow boy. And the local Durango folks tested the mine seepage before the EPA ever got involved. Lead, arsenic, cadmium, some aluminum, and copper in addition to iron.

eyesonu
Reply to  ristvan
August 10, 2015 2:02 pm

ristvan,
Thank you. I had just finished with a comment down thread questioning as to the possibility of the mine’s rock and/or water infiltration could contain/be naturally acidic.
Hopefully we can gain knowledge here at WUWT so as to be ready for the likely onslaught from the enviro’s and the media.

Reply to  eyesonu
August 10, 2015 2:51 pm

TY. WUWT and CE are supposed to be science sites. I would like to keep them that way, so practice my own ‘The Arts of Truth’ ebook before commenting. Wonderful to now know about ‘yellow boy’. Still don’t know where the ‘boy’ part came from. Understand completely the yellow part. You can even find Google images of the main oxides/sulfides in water.
Perhaps will research ‘boy’ after a glass or two of wine with dinner. Probably beats television.

eyesonu
Reply to  eyesonu
August 10, 2015 3:27 pm

ristvan,
Please ID TY and CE.
Thanks in advance.

Reply to  eyesonu
August 10, 2015 5:30 pm

TY – Thank You
CE – Climate Etc

Reply to  eyesonu
August 10, 2015 8:05 pm

I listened to an interview on this yesterday and yes, there are many “natural” seeps in the area as well as the mine seeps. I have seen similar seeps in the Canadian Rockies often.

Resourceguy
Reply to  ristvan
August 10, 2015 2:40 pm

There would still be fine clay particles in the assemblage and that is the main byproduct of the rock decay in acidic waters along with the metal oxides.

Reply to  Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 3:02 pm

Checked. You are correct. Non-weathered clays, from the acidity. Obviously, I should have spent 3 hours on self education rather than 2. Learned yet another something new today. Sincere thanks.

Tom J
August 10, 2015 1:35 pm

Environmental Pollution Agency

phaedo
Reply to  Tom J
August 10, 2015 1:43 pm

I feel a name change is in the offing.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 3:58 pm

Out hiking? These folks sit in front of a computer screen and look at the natural world using the same technology as your link.
I hike.
Well not much anymore. I now work on trails with wta dot org.

Harold
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
August 10, 2015 5:56 pm

“Natural world”? Is that what you call it?

Menicholas
Reply to  Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 6:50 pm

Noting the bare slopes, especially to the southeast.
Any idea why some of these entire hills seem devoid of vegetation?

Reply to  Menicholas
August 11, 2015 8:20 am

Back in the mining days the trees were stripped from the slopes for exploration and mining timbers, as well as for general usage. Much of that area is also above the tree line at high altitude.

August 10, 2015 1:46 pm

Don’t worry a bit !!
The EPA will find a way to blame everyone else.

Taphonomic
Reply to  Matthew W
August 10, 2015 3:16 pm

The lame stream media is already trying to blame the locals because they didn’t want to make the area a superfund site:
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/kyle-drennen/2015/08/10/msnbc-tries-blame-locals-not-epa-river-pollution

eyesonu
August 10, 2015 1:51 pm

The pH level is 3.74 in Cement Creek. It’s worse than ocean acidification.
The mine has been inactive/closed since 1923. Regulations in 1923?
If the water in the mine has a pH of less than 3.74 would it be fair to say that the make-up of the mine’s rock of groundwater may be somewhat acidic?
It’s worse than we thought. CO2 what done it. All rivers will be like this by 2025 if we don’t stop carbon pollution now. We only have 4 more months to change our ways.

benofhouston
Reply to  eyesonu
August 10, 2015 2:07 pm

The regulation in 1923 is to leave everything in the mine, no fuss, no problem. Many companies didn’t even do that.
The problem is that the mines fill up with water, and all the disturbed rock leaches out metals at much higher rates than solid rock or dirt. That leads to extremely toxic water as every heavy metal in the region builds up to it’s maximum solubility.

Tom J
August 10, 2015 1:58 pm

It’s Bush’s fault.

joelobryan
Reply to  Tom J
August 10, 2015 2:38 pm

Sort of what the Left will now claim with the usual funding trope.
“If the EPA had only been given more funding…..”
you know the rest. The Left loves to make shit up and blame a lack of money for bad things from government.

DanJ
August 10, 2015 1:58 pm

The EPA union will never allow the idiots responsible to be punished. The collective bargaining agreement is prime..

Bill Parsons
August 10, 2015 2:10 pm

Mine cleanup would logically be the job of mine owners and operators who dug the mines. Why is a federal government agency in charge of it? There are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of these “acid mine drainage” sites throughout the Colorado high country. Anybody who has hiked, backpacked, jeeped or skied the back country has come upon them… beautifully-colored orange-red scree slopes bleeding down into a permanently-discolored spring, creek or river. After seeing hundreds of these, it’s easy to forget that this is not really a good example of “local color”, and there really is no single person or agency responsible for fixing these messes left over from the early era of mining. The original miners have all long since passed on to that great placer mine in the sky, and their descendants would be destitute if required to reclaim the sites.
A beautifully-written history of these mines in the West, along with some proposals for fixing the mess:
http://www.centerwest.org/publications/pdf/mines.pdf

GeologyJim
August 10, 2015 2:13 pm

Everybody hold your horses until real concentration data are known.
This is an EPA-caused mess and the visuals are perfect for alarmist rabble-rousing, but the “toxic” label should be put on hold until the concentrations are known
“High levels of iron, zinc, and copper” used to be “Three of the Twelve Ways Wonder Bread Builds Strong Bodies”
Aluminum never harmed anyone.
Even the trace metals (lead, cadmium, arsenic, etc) may not be an issue, depending on the concentration and immediate dilution. And, of course, there must be a credible and persistent pathway from the source to the [potentially] harmed organism before there is any discernible “risk”
“Dilution is the Solution to Pollution” is still an operable strategy.

usurbrain
Reply to  GeologyJim
August 10, 2015 2:21 pm

And isn’t copper sulfate one of the common treatments spread over municipal water supply reservoirs by the waterworks?

joelobryan
Reply to  usurbrain
August 10, 2015 2:39 pm

copper sulfate is what is used to kill tree roots that penetrate into sewer lines

usurbrain
Reply to  joelobryan
August 10, 2015 6:31 pm

Copper Sulfate is also used for algae or aquatic plant management. (Wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t know and hadn’t used it!)

Menicholas
Reply to  usurbrain
August 10, 2015 7:00 pm

It is the most commonly used algaecide in swimming pools as well.
(Chlorine is a sanitizer…kills bacteria and protozoa.)
It is also used to spray fruit and vegetable crops in order to control bacteria and fungal pathogens.
The big issue of course is the concentration.

Resourceguy
Reply to  GeologyJim
August 10, 2015 2:27 pm

Which concentrations? The irrigation water, the wells, the sediment, the fish, or the tap water?

Reply to  Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 8:45 pm

WD, had the same isssue with my old yet beloved Arabian mare. Patchy coat, and our vet said was selenium minerals deficient. Supplements did not work. She went hooves up (literally, just before a New Year based on snow on her carcass just after a litle 6 inch snow) not 4 months later. Now, that was a very, very tough holiday season.

Reply to  GeologyJim
August 10, 2015 5:14 pm

Agree. If mostly nano precipitate is iron pyrite, no big problem. Just an ugly PR problem. Been there, done that, twice! That the provisional heavy metal concentrations were not released (upthread) is NOT a good sign. Been there, done that…also. NOT good.

Menicholas
Reply to  ristvan
August 10, 2015 7:03 pm

Of course, as has been pointed out, there are some of these which are not benign, such as selenium and especially cadmium.
(Although there is some selenium in those multivitamins they market for aging hipsters…it is really a tiny amount.)

Reply to  ristvan
August 10, 2015 8:11 pm

A little selenium is good for plants and animals. I feed selenium to my livestock as the western prairie soils are selenium “deficient”. However, feed too much and you have selenium toxicity. Some people inject selenium into their animals to control the dose.

Stuart Jones
Reply to  GeologyJim
August 10, 2015 5:36 pm

set up a processing plant and recycle all those metals, new industry for the area, might even make some money, the local economy might improve, perhaps there is some gold in that water now, get the pans out, a new gold rush, wait for me when is the next plane to Denver……..

Menicholas
Reply to  Stuart Jones
August 10, 2015 7:07 pm

Concentrations are likely too low to be practical.
I have had the same thought in the past regarding phosphate and nitrate pollution which causes eutrophication once it reaches a lake or the ocean…why not just use it for irrigation and thus fertilizer?
The issue is the concentration and hence the volume of water to be treated. There is a range which is not commercially practical, but still too high to flush into rivers and streams.
If it was that easy, we would not need mines.

Reply to  GeologyJim
August 11, 2015 12:48 am

Aluminum never harmed anyone
Guess thats why all the warnings not to cook acidic foods in alluminum pans… It wont harm you.
http://www.arltma.com/Articles/AlumToxDoc.htm

Auto
Reply to  kcrucible
August 11, 2015 12:45 pm

Aluminium.
We’ve had ‘Daily Mail’ scares/articles [ in the UK] claiming
Aluminium pans => Alzheimer’s (or some form of senile dementia)
Some years ago.
I think the statistical correlation was about 0.3 . . . .
Auto

Snarling Dolphin
August 10, 2015 2:26 pm

Looking forward to seeing their TRI (Toxic Release Inventory) report. “Toxic” in that context has nothing to do with concentrations. When it comes to TRI releases, heavy metals are toxic. Period. The only question is whether reporting thresholds were exceeded.

Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 2:29 pm

What is the dollar impact on tourism? Better start the tally.

Reply to  Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 3:08 pm

Here’s a start for the dollar effect on the local economys:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/11/us/durango-colorado-mine-spill-environmental-protection-agency.html
“When — when can we be open again?” said David Moler, 35, the owner of a river-rafting company who had approached a microphone. “All I hear is a handful of ‘gonna-dos,’ ” he added. “What should I tell my employees?”
There are many farms which use this water for irrigation…
“Children study the river. Sweethearts marry on its banks. Its former name, given by Spaniards, is Río de las Ánimas, coincidentally, “River of Souls.”
On Sunday, State Senator Ellen Roberts, a Republican who lives near the river, cried softly as she considered the pollution, adding that she had dropped her father’s ashes in its depths.”
“It is not just a scenic destination,” Ms. Roberts said. “It is where people literally raise their children. It is where the farmers and ranchers feed their livestock, which in turn feeds the people. We’re isolated from Denver through the mountains. And we are pretty resourceful people. But if you take away our water supply, we’re left with virtually no way to move forward.”

Louis Hunt
August 10, 2015 2:33 pm

“The EPA has not only claimed responsibility for the spill, but is claiming responsibility for a slow response as well.”
Now that really is surprising. But what’s even more surprising is that they didn’t blame climate change for the sudden reduction in availability of clean, fresh water in drought-ridden Western States… at least not yet.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Louis Hunt
August 10, 2015 3:22 pm

And Janet Reno claimed responsibility for Waco.
It’s not hard to claim responsibility for something when you know there will be no consequences…other than to the victims of the screw up.

Menicholas
Reply to  Louis Hunt
August 10, 2015 7:09 pm

One problem is that the water is flowing very high and fast. Plenty of rain there recently.

wws
August 10, 2015 2:36 pm

All affected residents of the area will now be required to assemble, stand in formation, and chant “THANK YOU SIR MAY I HAVE ANOTHER????” 10 times in succession.

Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 2:44 pm

Give them a few days to organize the message, but it will probably end up as a call to ban all mining via new regulations. Actually, we have already done that effectively and we now import the products and never see the methods or effects elsewhere.

Pamela Gray
August 10, 2015 3:08 pm

hmmm. Did another comment of mine disappear down the rabbit hole?

Katherine
Reply to  Pamela Gray
August 10, 2015 6:17 pm

I suspect you’re referring to this comment of yours, since it seemed out of place in that other thread.

Pamela Gray
Reply to  Katherine
August 10, 2015 10:53 pm

Yep. I posted on the wrong thread.

Gunga Din
August 10, 2015 3:16 pm

They imply man-made “Climate Change” caused the drought in California.
Now the EPA has polluted some of California’s water supply.
Hollywood won’t be happy.

phaedo
Reply to  Gunga Din
August 10, 2015 3:56 pm

The EPA will state something along the lines of this is a natural result of man’s industrial activities; in this case. if the mine had never been dug to extract the gold, the polluted water would not have been there for the hapless, but well-meaning souls at the EPA to flush down the Colorado river system. Think of the children.

MarkW
Reply to  phaedo
August 11, 2015 5:16 pm

We already have had some here, if those nasty miners hadn’t violated Gaia by digging all those holes into her, none of this would have ever happened.

Gunga Din
August 10, 2015 3:18 pm

The EPA’s response: “Let them drink Perrier!”

Auto
Reply to  Gunga Din
August 11, 2015 12:48 pm

Badoit – in my opinion – if superior.
Especially the red bottles ‘hyper-petillant’.
Extra sparkling.
Auto

Auto
Reply to  Auto
August 11, 2015 12:50 pm

IS superior. (Of course!)
Not drinking Badoit tonight!
Auto, with apologies for incompetent proof-reading.

Claude Harvey
August 10, 2015 3:25 pm

If you ever see an EPA employee sitting aboard a Caterpillar tractor, run for your life! No telling what he might do. Goofy creatures! Having dealt with them on several occasions, I wouldn’t trust one of ’em with my car keys. On second thought, my car keys would never come up. If five of them arrive at your construction site, they’ll be driving five rental cars. No need to borrow yours for that traditional trip to the local topless bar (where ‘gubment credit cards are always welcomed).

August 10, 2015 3:26 pm

I smell a new parody.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Elmer
August 10, 2015 4:08 pm

Looking forward to it.
(If it works, the “I’ve got my pay” line should stay.8-)

Mervyn
Reply to  Elmer
August 11, 2015 6:50 am

Nice one, Elmer!

toorightmate
August 10, 2015 3:54 pm

Be fair.
The EPA is very busy fabricating horsesh*t.

Louis Hunt
August 10, 2015 4:19 pm

What is the cause of the EPA’s animus toward the Animas river?
[Aminals? .mod]

ralphcramdo
August 10, 2015 4:36 pm

Just skimming through the story and comments I didn’t see this, but, on the local Fox news tonight it was reported that the current estimate of the spill is three time more than originally reported.

Catcracking
August 10, 2015 4:39 pm

My computer frequently goes back to the advertisement as I attempt to scroll down to subsequent comments. Any thing I need to do to stop that?.

D.J. Hawkins
Reply to  Catcracking
August 10, 2015 4:58 pm

If you’re running Chrome, like me, install Flash Control.

Menicholas
Reply to  Catcracking
August 10, 2015 7:13 pm

If you are using IE, click on tools and turn on ActiveXFiltering. You will need to turn it off to watch flash videos, but it will fix problems with this site.
But then donate, as you are cutting off advertising which supports our host.

Catcracking
Reply to  Catcracking
August 11, 2015 7:02 am

Thanks for the tips.
I will try that.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Catcracking
August 11, 2015 2:48 pm

I use Firefox and had the same problem until I added and “add on” to block ads.

Catcracking
August 10, 2015 4:48 pm

They need to prosecute the head of the EPA for lying about the extent of the spill as they tried to do to the BP ceo

August 10, 2015 5:12 pm

In March I scheduled a vacation for Durango/ Silverton in late September and early October. The Durango Tourism Board told me today that I should not cancel my vacation and that the river is clear since last Saturday. I think they are blowing smoke (or is it yellow water) at me since they State of Emergency was set up yesterday (Sunday). I am thinking of canceling and vacationing elsewhere.

petelj
August 10, 2015 6:05 pm

I can’t believe this administration chumming for votes in Colorado by having his minions dye the Animas river Broncos orange. You can’t get politics out of everything this administration touches. Any environmental groups want to step up and take a principled stand or are they afraid of getting their grant money cut off or loose their privileges to write the next onerous, unconstitutional regulation.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  petelj
August 10, 2015 6:13 pm

Yeah, and the EPA guy even said “shit happens” in the business. Boy a mining company has no recourse to that rejoinder.

Steve Lohr
August 10, 2015 6:30 pm

This is heart breaking. On so many levels this will become one of those events that will teach us as well as try our ingenuity to deal with the reality and find solutions to the problem. I was coincidentally in my local fly shop here in Colorado and the devastating news that this is going to make it to the Jan Juan is just so sad. I recall the pesticide spill on the upper Sacramento that killed everything in it’s path. The only thing I am not seeing that gives me some hope is the lack of huge drifts of dead fish. Dare I hope that this is not as toxic as some mine leaching. I can recall some mine water in West Virginia that literally killed the streams and they remained dead permanently. In other cases I have seen yellowish precipitate that seemed to have little effect except make everything ugly. So many people’s lives will be changed by this. I only hope it isn’t permanent. And of course we should all recall the most frightening words in the English, and probably several others, language. ” Hello, I am from the government and I’m here to help.”

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Steve Lohr
August 11, 2015 12:55 am

Over large areas of the Northern Territory of Australia, where there are pronounced wet and dry seasons, the first heavy rain can flush minerals that accumulated in shrinking waterholes the dry, to places where fish can then go for the first time in months. No mines for miles around, just natural rain water is involved.It is common to see dead fish strewn on the flood plain after the first big storm of the season. Last I heard, it was aluminium that did the poisoning, one way or another.
In Science, it is usually a good idea to get to know the natural system before you attribute blame to a catastrophe that might be a natural part of the living cycle and nought to do with the puny Hand of Man.

August 10, 2015 6:52 pm

One of the comments from a long time resident in the area with knowledge on the local mines made some statements on the situation on another blog.
There are many mines closely related in the area with one extended under a upland lake and some connecting with each other. The small lake broke through and flooded some lower mine that was first plugged. It filled and ground seepage got into others requiring others to be plugged. Eventually filling them all and oxidation of the fill period causing the orange yellow soup over time. Whole the head supervisor was away a junior decided it was time to jut a pipe in to take test samples. he took a few scoops to shorten a pipe push and saw wet seeping soil. Then wet his pants.

jim
August 10, 2015 7:37 pm

Reminds me of the scene from Ghostbusters when the EPA shut down the ghost containment unit, releasing all the ghosts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3Uy9wsfkok

john karajas
August 10, 2015 7:56 pm

I visited Durango in 1989 and still retain fond memories of my visit. Interesting that a long history of mining in the area has had less impact on the town than the EPA.

Joel O'Bryan
August 10, 2015 8:20 pm

My guess is in a few years the scientific reports will report that the Animas River ecosystem was much more resilient to the acidic toxic pulse than they imagined. And that detection of the heavy metal plume fell to background levels in Lake Powell by 2016 as the input of El Nino monsoon rains continued to flush the rivers and creeks feeding the Colorado River.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 10, 2015 9:11 pm

Lake Powell currently hold 13 Million acre feet of water (late July 2015 readings). That is 4.2 Trillion acre-feet of water. The Animas River toxic pulse will eventually deliver 3-4 Million gallons of concentrated polluted (toxic?) plume to Lake Powell as it jons the Colorado River system.
Do the math: 4.2E12 / 4/E6 = a million-fold dillution. That’s a rounding error on the discharge of heavy meal pollutant levels (measured in ppm) from Lake Powell’s Glen Canyon Dam as it heads downstream to the Grand Canyon and Lake Mead.

Snarling Dolphin
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 11, 2015 7:04 am

Agreed Joel. This is an opportunity to once again be reminded and learn about the resilience of Mother Nature. We should stay tuned but won’t as once the reality that this may not be as devastatingly and permanently bad as we feared (hoped?) sets in, the greenies will become agitated to distraction by the next potential disaster. Certainly no style points deserved by EPA and I’m all about kicking them while they’re down, but I doubt very much the Animas River stays dead for long.

Joel O'Bryan
August 10, 2015 9:12 pm

sorry, it’s 4.2 Trillion gallons (not acre-feet)

RD
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 12, 2015 12:16 pm

Your dimensional analysis really helps put this EPA disaster into perspective. It’s truly terrible. Thanks.Joel.

Doug
August 10, 2015 9:25 pm

“Yes, it was obviously deliberate. If a retired geologist could predict exactly what would happen, then the EPA had to know, too.”
Nah, geologists have been ignored for eternity. We are used to it. Ask one about this “global warming” thing.