EPA’s gross negligence at Gold King Mine includes disappearing 191 incident photos from their website

WUWT contributor Russell Cook notes:

EPA has scrubbed all 191 photos off their photo log / list view pages http://www.epaosc.org/site/image_listview.aspx?site_id=11082 . If the #1 item at this page is an accurate indicator, the scrub took place on Sunday.

I had visited that site last week when the event first happened and I wrote my first report, and I can confirm that the photos below, plus many more, are now gone.

What could have rendered all those photos, which were previously labeled “Security Level: Public“, as now not for public viewing?

GoldKing blowout eyewitness

What is the EPA hiding with this unwarranted action? – Anthony Watts


 

Fear-mongering, pollution standards and negligence rules don’t apply when EPA is at fault

Guest essay by Paul Driessen  

On August 5, an Environmental Restoration company crew, supervised by US Environmental Protection Agency officials, used an excavator to dig away tons of rock and debris that were blocking the entrance portal of Colorado’s Gold King Mine, which had been largely abandoned since 1923. Water had been seeping into the mine and out of its portal for decades, and the officials knew (or could and should have known) the water was acidic (pH 4.0-4.5), backed up far into the mine, and laced with heavy metals.

But they kept digging – until the greatly weakened dam burst open, unleashing a 3-million-gallon (or more) toxic flood that soon contaminated the Animas and San Juan Rivers, all the way to Lake Powell in Utah. To compound the disaster, EPA then waited an entire day before notifying downstream mayors, health officials, families, farmers, ranchers, fishermen and kayakers that the water they were drinking, using for crops and livestock, or paddling in was contaminated by lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic.

Three million gallons of turmeric-orange poisonous water and sludge is enough to fill a pool the size of a football field (360×160 feet) seven feet deep. Backed up hundreds of feet above the portal into mine adits, stopes, rooms and other passageways that begin at 11,458 feet above sea level, the flash-flooding water had enough power to rip out a road and propel its toxic muck hundreds of miles downstream. (You can review EPA’s incompetence and gross negligence in these project photos* and post-disaster images.)

Anyone who follows mining, oil spill and power plant accidents knows the EPA, Obama White House and Big Green environmentalist rhetoric: There is no safe threshold for chemicals. They are toxic and carcinogenic at parts per billion. The water will be unsafe for years or even decades. Wildlife will die. Corporate polluters are criminals and must pay huge fines. We will keep our boots on their necks.

This time the White House was silent, and Democrats and eco-activists rushed to defend EPA and shift the blame to mining and mining companies. EPA officials made statements they would never use if a private company had caused the blowout: EPA had simply “miscalculated” how much water had backed up. It was just trying to stick a pipe into the top of the mine to safely pump liquid out for treatment. We were “very careful.” Contaminants “are flowing too fast to be an immediate health threat.” The river is already “restoring itself” back to pre-spill levels, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy insisted.

The evidence strongly suggests that EPA never studied or calculated anything, had no operations plan vetted and approved by state officials or mining experts, was not trying to install a pipe – and was grossly careless and negligent. Toxic sludge was carried and deposited along hundreds of miles, contaminating water and riverbeds, where it will be stirred up for years during every heavy rainfall and snowmelt.

Mining engineers told me the prudent approach would have been to push or drill a 4-inch pipe through the rubble into the mine, to determine the water pressure, toxicity and extent of water backup in the mine – and then build a strong cofferdam below the portal – before proceeding. Simply removing the debris was stupid, dangerous and negligent, they said. It will take years now to correct the damage and assess costs.

A week after the great flood, EPA finally built a series of retention ponds to contain and filter out heavy metals and chemicals. But the August 5 surge and sludge are still contaminating Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico rivers, in arid regions where water is scarce and precious. The Navajo Tribal Unity Authority says meeting EPA standards for clean drinking water could double the tribe’s costs for building a new treatment plant and cost millions more in testing and operating expenses.

EPA says it will pay for testing, property damage, human injuries and hauling safe drinking water. But will it pay to truck in safe water for livestock and irrigation, and pay for crops and livestock lost because there is no water in the meantime, and cover millions in lost incomes for outfitters and hotel operators during what would have been their peak tourist seasons? Exxon paid such costs after the Valdez spill in Alaska; BP did likewise after its Macondo spill in the Gulf of Mexico; so have coal companies.

Shouldn’t EPA do likewise, instead of asserting “sovereign immunity” despite its gross negligence? Shouldn’t it cover these costs out of the millions of dollars it uses for employee bonuses and to payenvironmental activists and public relations firms to promote its image and agenda – instead of sticking taxpayers with the tab via special appropriations? Will EPA reimburse state and local governments and private charities for assistance they have already rendered? Will it fire the irresponsible officials, or at least demote and discipline them? Will Environmental Restoration pay its fair share?

Under standards that EPA and environmentalists apply to the private sector, Gold King was a disaster. However, the accident could also be an impetus for reflection and responsible regulatory reform.

Anti-mining pressure groups and factions within EPA will use this accident to press for new layers of mining rules, bonds, payments and liabilities. They are unnecessary – and will only restrict the jobs, expertise and revenues needed to ensure that exploration, mining, reclamation and repair of abandoned (orphan) mines are done properly. Modern mining, processing and pollution prevention methods are vastly superior to those employed even 50 years ago, and do not cause the exaggerated impacts alleged by Earthwatch EarthJustice and others. Moreover, the metals and minerals are essential for the wondrous technologies and living standards, the health, housing, transportation and recreational pursuits, that we enjoy today.

The Gold King blowout was predictable and preventable. The mine was leaking slightly polluted water, but the problem was not serious and was being addressed, and the former mining town of Silverton, CO had repeatedly asked EPA not to intervene or make Gold King a Superfund site. Mining engineers and other experts were available, and some had offered their insights and expertise. EPA ignored them.

EPA – and all government agencies – should end their We-know-best and We-know-what-we’re-doing attitudes … and seek outside advice from real experts in the trenches. They should also develop careful operating plans, assess worst-case scenarios, and take steps to ensure that the worst doesn’t happen. Sometimes they just need to do nothing, get out of the way, and let the private sector handle problems.

But they should support Clean Water Act and other revisions to make it easier, less costly and less fraught with potential liability for companies or coalitions of dedicated parties to fix pollution discharge problems at the relatively few abandoned mines that are leaking contaminated water at worrisome levels.

EPA’s new view that these pollutants are not as toxic as previously claimed – and that nature can and does clean things up – is refreshing, even if self-serving. (My use of “toxic” in this article mostly reflects currently prevailing agency, activist and public health industry attitudes and safety standards.)

Standards for maximum contaminant levels and maximum safe exposures are often absurdly low, and the concept of “linear no threshold” (that there is no safe exposure or blood or tissue level for lead, cadmium, arsenic and other metals) is outdated and wrong, Dr. Edward Calabrese and other experts argue.

Pollution, exposure and blood levels are often safe at significantly higher levels than regulations currently allow. Moreover, low levels of exposure to radiation and many chemicals can actually provide protection from cancer, disease and pollutants. While this concept of hormesis is generally ignored by current regulations, we know that a little alcohol improves heart functions, whereas a lot causes multiple problems; an 80 mg aspirin can prevent strokes, but a bottleful can kill; and many vaccinations inject disease strains that cause a person’s immune system to produce antibodies and prevent the disease.

The Obama EPA is already using WOTUS rules on water and a Clean Power Plan on electricity generation and climate change to control virtually everything we make, grow and do. Congressional committees, presidential candidates, businesses and citizens need to get involved, debate these issues, ask tough questions, and work to implement appropriate reforms. Our courts and Congress must not allow another collusive sue-and-settle lawsuit – or a new regime of government controls and mine closures that would drive yet another nail into the coffin of western state and local economies … and cleanup efforts.

Gold King presents a teachable moment. Let’s make sure we learn the correct lessons.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.

* It appears that EPA deleted its entire photo album, so that people can no longer view them. We are trying to find a citizen archive of the images and will link to it, if possible. Again we have “the most transparent administration in history” (quoting President Obama) at your service.

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124 thoughts on “EPA’s gross negligence at Gold King Mine includes disappearing 191 incident photos from their website

  1. Anthony and Paul, you guys are spooky good. 191 photos? Holy cow! And I bet you have a copy of everyone of them. I promise not to cross YOU guys.

    • Paul, your hero the social anthro-apologist actually thinks that she has a solution. She actually thinks.

    • Whoa! Indebted to Anthony for including my screencapture of that pair of photos from EPA’s page with Paul Driessen’s report. As Paul was partway through writing his article, which has also appeared at other sites over the weekend such as TownHall, I figured it would be a good idea to see if an archive link could be made to preserve all the photos. While this one I created on 8/12 https://archive.is/iDLpb initially worked (or seemed to, anyway), now it only shows the first of 32 pages and 5 of the 191 photos. But at least it proves they were all there.

      • Together with copies of Obama’s real birth certificate, college transcripts and SS number; Hillary’s cattle trading records and the missing Rose law firm files …

    • Early on you say;

      “What could have rendered all those photos, which were previously labeled “Security Level: Public“, as now not for public viewing?”

      Why not ask someone at the EPA why they have disappeared? Knowing the reason will help to debate the answer better.

      tonyb

      • Not even the TCEQ can get straight answers out of the EPA. They have taken literally years to respond to basic queries on my part. Good luck

      • Barbara
        + quite a lot!

        I do not assume that – tonyb – the Climateguy’s comment was naivety; he has too many bonus points in my recollection.
        So – a wonderful one-two!
        Enjoyed!

        Auto

      • Hey Tony,
        I’m sure the Obama Administration will get on that request; right after Lois Lerner’s emails and Sec.St. Clinton’s emails.

      • Trump could de-claw the epa on his first day in office – I’d vote for him on that promise alone. Instill a new administrator that would rescind the declaration of CO2 to be a pollutant.

  2. Did the EPA or their agents have permission from the land owner to set foot on this property? Did they have a warrant from the Court to begin work on that private property? What legal aithority does the EPA or their agents have to even take this type of action? What was their plan, did they have an emergency plan in case of unexpected events? Are the persons in charge of this disaster still employed bunthe EPA or the govern,ent? Will the US Justice Department investigate and being charges against those responsible? We should demand Congress hold hearings.

  3. Could be just typical government arrogance combined with typical incompetence. Might have been the same result had they contracted it to the lowest cost bidder (typical government rule) with typical lack of effective oversight. Explains why we typically get substandard results.

    • As a just-former employee of the Oregon Dept. of Transportation (ODOT), and a centrist-liberal (on many social issues), I take a lot of exception to blanket negative statements about government and civil servants. ODOT struggled (and struggles) against the same anti-government attitudes as all departments, of course, but the incompetence I saw was nearly always on the part of the contractors, made all the more problematic by the way the Right has forced lowest-bidder contracts, design-bid-build programs (govt can say Yea or Nay, but not otherwise get involved). Google “Pioneer Mountain to Eddyville”, which was supposed to be the last major new freeway project in Oregon for the foreseeable future. What a predictable private-sector disaster this has become!

      On he other hand, the Department of Administrative Services (DAS)–my word, I keep expecting someone to expand that acronym with German or Russian words, Newspeak scary ones. Can’t say enough bad about that organization, and, of course, it behaves exactly like the EPA with respect to other departments here in Oregon. Between the silly* legislature and DAS, many of Oregon’s once-illustrious public-sector programs (such as transportation) have become the province of the well-oiled palm.

      I don’t mean to assert that there is no incompetence (or worse) among civil servants–they are fully human–but it isn’t they, typically, of whom you rant, but, rather, the policy-setters. And the civil servants I worked with [insert note about sample bias here] were typically among the most competent workers I have had the pleasure to work with.

      I think that if I have a point (says the rambler), it might be that because of several social factors, the evolving model by which modern governmental bodies are forced to do business has, in itself, the result that most of the population, inside and outside government, never really has a say in how business is conducted. Let’s rail against specific examples of incompetence, by all means, because it is not only our right, but our duty; all I am asking is to make sure we focus it. As many of my liberal friends will point out, the past successes of the EPA (and the entire country under it!) will stand in the history books, but right now, the overreach is causing people to want EPA abolished, the manifest good along with the obvious bad. How about we craft new laws that put meaningful oversight back in the hands of Congress, and let Congress say “No” when it should. How about we put actual Constitutional lawyers and scholars into the courts; how about we hold everyone to the same legal standards, in and out of government, and reserve “sovereign immunity” to the POTUS and members of Congress, etc., as required by the Constitution, and during their term in office only. For example, the deeds in Silverton should, I am sure we all agree, be actionable under ordinary law. And while “we” are at it (armchair legislator?), why do we not enforce, where appropriate, the “truth in advertising” laws to all advertising including propaganda.

      * The legislature here in Oregon, as in surrounding states, can’t decide what it is, but I suspect most members of both houses think they are attending a high-school “model U.N.”, where, of course, everything is theoretical and therefore harmless. I’ve replaced the perennial question “What were they thinking?” with “What? Were they thinking?”

      • The “right” forces taking low-bidders and using design-bid-build contracts? Really?

        This sounds more like an on-call contract based on RFQ selection and negotiated rates. But in any case…even in a low-bid acceptance setting, the low-bidder can be dismissed from the selection process based on past performance, lawsuits, etc. There is no mandate on using bad contractors.

      • The substantial difference that we must never forget is that government is vested with the power to coerce using deadly force, something we never give to any private contractor. And when government digs its heals in on an issue, it has all the financial resources of sovereignty and the tax base to bring to the court battle. And because of this government employees sometimes act like the gods and think they have the moral high ground no matter how wrong they may be.

      • How about we stop characterizing CO2 as a dangerous chemical. Or do you believe this is the hottest year on record?

      • Aaaaahaaaa! A man from the DOT. Should we talk about how state gasoline tax and federal HTF money is being frittered away on bike and hike trails, snowmobile trails and research on hovercraft, or on bus shelters and storage and or law enforcement pvertime holiday encorcement, rather than building and repairing streets, roads, highways and bridges? The gasoline tax money is being wasted on non road projecs. Yeah…this is a little off topic but you started It.

      • I really love the way the govt apologist actually thinks that the govt shouldn’t hire the lowest priced qualified bidder.
        Then again, the govt isn’t spending his money.

      • I can’t help but to agree with you. I work with regulators every day, and individually they are some of the most dedicated people I know. Handcuffed by the administration and institutions they work for.

    • I was wondering when WUWT was gonna get around to this story. As usual, this site goes at it from a completely different – and as yet uncovered – angle.

      Government, any government, has now become unspeakably bad at public works.

      http://dragineez.com:8774/HalethorpeDebacle.html

      I’m taking pictures to this very day further documenting the incompetence. Literally 3 years into a 1 year project, and it’s still not done. But it’s the lack of concern about the negative impact this has on those who use or are serviced by these works that really appalls me. Same with the Gold King mine. I’ll bet there was a local telling them “You know, this might not be a good idea.”

    • Incompetence and corruption are far too common throughout government. Just look at (Cat 3) Hurricane Katrina, which a court has found the Army Corp of Engineers’ levee to be the costliest/worst civil engineering disaster of all time but is not liable for damages due to sovereign immunity.

      Or, how about “super storm” Sandy, which wasn’t even considered a hurricane when it hit land, was made more costly due to government subsidized flood insurance for beach front homes, building on filled in wetlands and making no provision to prevent the subway tunnel system that ran under the East River from flooding, despite higher historical storm surges.

  4. It must’ve been Hillary Clinton that ‘accidentally’ erased those pictures. If not, then it was possibly a movie maker in California who was violating his parole with an Internet movie production. Somehow that caused it. Or, maybe it was a coal train of death that broke through the dam and then carried away the pictures.

    I know, it was an insufficient budget that caused all of this.

    • Another one: Right wing conspiracy and entrapment, “old news”, “what does it matter now?”, “the shutdown made them do it”. I also notice the snark lofo trolls have gone underground with this and Clinton.

      Will Jimmy Buffett and his circle of musicians do another protest?
      Will he protest the oil floating on water or will he ignore the heavy metals that will be entrenched in the sand and sediment for the next 15 years?

      Will EPA allow for suctioning of sand and sediment to rinse, filter and return it?
      Or will EPA claim this is contaminating the stream water just like they do to keep people from filtering sand for gold flakes.

      Perhaps EPA will be allowed to respond to this man-made disaster instead of being told to wait ….like the EPA and Coast guard were told to during the BP release. How fortunate the Obama EPA waited until the oil hit the shores when they could claim maximum damages and bill 3 times the amount. Once the states began their action on the shores, Oblunder could not sit idle any more.

      Under Clean Water Act notifications had to be made within 24 hours and the response from the command includes notification of all municipalities and water intake points downstream. A review of the National Response Center records doesn’t show anything from EPA or the contractor on that date. On 8-10-15, there is a report from EPA. (http://www.nrc.uscg.mil/). Nothing on other reporting sites.

  5. Federal web sites should be compelled to allow archiving by the Internet Archive on demand.

    This is a copy of the robots.txt file on the http://www.epaosc.org server:

    # go away
    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /

    • This is a warning box on the epaosc.ORG login page.
      https://www.epaosc.org/site/login.aspx?ReturnURL=%2fsite%2fregionmap.aspx%3f

      In processing and accessing U.S. Government information and information systems, you acknowledge that you fully understand and consent to all of the following: 1) you are accessing U.S. Government information and information systems that are provided for official U.S. Government purposes only; 2) unauthorized access to or unauthorized use of U.S. Government information or information systems is subject to criminal, civil, administrative or other lawful action; 3) the term U.S. Government information system includes systems operated on behalf of the U.S. Government; 4) you have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communications or information used, transmitted, or stored on U.S. Government information systems; 5) at any time, the U.S. Government may for any lawful government purpose, without notice, monitor, intercept, search, and seize any authorized or unauthorized communication to or from U.S. Government information systems or information used or stored on U.S. Government information systems; 6) at any time, the U.S. Government may for any lawful government purpose, search and seize any authorized or unauthorized devices that stores U.S. Government information; 7) any communications or information used, transmitted, or stored on U.S. Government information systems may be used or disclosed for any lawful government purpose, including but not limited to, administrative purposes, penetration testing, communication security monitoring, personnel misconduct measures, law enforcement, and counterintelligence inquiries; and 8) you may not process or store classified national security information on this computer system.

      It sure looks like an official government site. But doesn’t quite say it is.

      You go to the Login Registration
      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/08/18/epas-gross-negligence-at-gold-king-mine-includes-disappearing-191-incident-photos-from-their-website/
      And it looks like anyone can register, especially with the Input fields: Title, Organization, Address, City, State, Zip, Phone and Fax number. It isn’t like it is referencing a GSA directory.

    • Email rwc (at) eclipse.net is associated with ~10 domains
      domreg (at) verison.com is associated with ~348 domains

      Registrant Org: US Environmental Protection Agency is associated with ~9 other domains

      Dates Created: on 2001-07-13 – Expires on 2016-07-13 – Updated on 2012-10-12

      IP Address 54.208.107.139 – 2 other sites hosted on this server 

      IP Location United States – Virginia – Ashburn – Amazon.com Inc.
      ASN United States AS14618 AMAZON-AES – Amazon.com, Inc. (registered Nov 04, 2005)

      The reverse lookup (via domaintools.com) for rwc (at) eclipse.net gives the following

      d _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ e.org 2000-04-23 —
      e _ _ _ _ c.info 2014-04-08 —
      e _ _ _ _ c.net 2001-01-26 NETWORK SOLUTIONS, LLC.
      e _ _ _ _ c.org 2001-07-13 —
      e _ _ _ _ _ _ _ c.org 2004-02-25 —
      e _ _ _ _ _ d.org 2014-09-15 —
      e _ _ .org 1996-01-06 —
      e _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ t.org 2001-01-25 —
      e _ _ _ _ _ _ o.org 2001-01-25 —
      j _ _ _ _ _ p.com 1998-07-07 NETWORK SOLUTIONS, LLC.

    • It won’t be the final coincidence, for here is another.

      The domaintools.com who is “epaosc.net” lists the following Emails:

      abuse (at) web.com is associated with ~9,655,082 domains
      rwc (at) verison.com is associated with ~10 domains
      ertsupport (at) epa.gov is associated with ~7 domains
      domreg (at) verizon.com is associated with ~348 domains

      The reverse lookup for ertsupport (at) epa.gov lists

      e _ _ _ _ c.info 2014-04-08 --
      e _ _ _ _ c.net 2001-01-26 NETWORK SOLUTIONS, LLC.
      e _ _ _ _ _ _ _ c.org 2004-02-25 --
      e _ _ .org 1996-01-06 --
      e _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ t.org 2001-01-25 --
      e _ _ _ _ _ _ o.org 2001-01-25 --
      e _ _ _ _ _ _ r.org 2012-04-27 --

    • Yellow is my favorite color.

      Come to think of it, that yellow and that blue monochromes, together make white light with the highest luminous efficacy of 400 lumen per watt.

      Only EPA could have planned for this to happen.

      g

    • And I have to wonder how long it would have been before this became public if there had been no discolouration. The 24 hours could have easily been 24 days…

  6. Me all know that industry personnel are busily monitoring ever statement by the EPA for the proper language to use the next time they pull a FUBAR of their own.

    You will be able to see every quote start with …

    “Like the EPA says …” .. or ..
    “In the words of Gina McCarthy, the yada yada yada is ‘restoring itself’ “

    • Dyathink that the acidified coral reefs could be doing the same; reconstituting themselves ??

      g

  7. Doubtless there’s now poisonous sludge in the Animas and San Juan Rivers, but seems to me, there’s a whole lot more of the stuff at 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20460?

  8. This administration cannot be trusted. No conspiracy theories needed. Crony politics at its’ worse. Wake up and vote.

  9. To regain some accountability of government all records must be in the public domain at all times; to ensure this happens should it come to light that the government is keeping secrets all those involved are prosecuted for violating the public trust and access to information that the people own. Also, any “secret” actions are not official government business and thus illegal. Just a thought for change. Even a watered down version of this would make a huge difference.

    • The classified and secret documents of the USA State Department were kept in a closet in a bathroom of the Secretary of State along with her towels and toilet paper. Like she said, what difference does it make?

  10. The thing is that “the EPA” do not compensate anybody for anything. Any money paid by the EPA to fix their own bungle comes directly from the taxpayer.

    They won’t be fined because that leads to the absurdity of the taxpayer taking the taxpayer to court in an attempt to get the taxpayer to pay a fine to the taxpayer. The only winners are the lawyers.

    Far better to get your Congressman to have heads roll at the EPA.

    • Happens at the state level frequently — in the Great State of Washington. [The real State on the left coast.]

    • “Far better to get your Congressman to have heads roll at the EPA.”

      True, if we could only get Congress to do ANYTHING that actually would help the country and that was devoid of party politics.

  11. When EPA screws up, it won’t be as toxic as EPA thought previously. The only truly toxic substance is carbon dioxide.

    • EPA’s new view that these pollutants are not as toxic as previously claimed“. Of course they aren’t. The toxicity of a substance isn’t in any way dependent on its chemical components, only on its source. If the source is the EPA, it’s harmless (even EPA CO2 is completely harmless). But if the source is private industry then it’s toxic, period.

  12. Thank you for the concise and well researched article.
    I had first noticed when the Durango Hearld carried several of the EPA photos that there where many missing between the before and after. But the ones there told quite a tale. Also I noticed on the USGS stream flow data for Cement and Animas there where interesting changes in the days after the event.
    One thing you seemed to have missed in the article was that a local geologist Dave Taylor (yes, I was born and raised on the Animas) predicted this exact event a week before in comments to the Silverton paper.
    No non-government hydrologist would have ever signed off off on any part of this operation.
    As for the 24 hr delay in reporting, a careful perusal of the photos would give most the impression that these folks where very, very busy during that time. Look at the stain levels and the fresh earth movement in in relation to the benign trickle before and after. One of my favorites, for other reasons, is the one showing a pH test strip smeared with mustard yellow test material next to it’s color metric chart. I was under the impression that it was a huge mistake to use pH test strips in any material that may stain the reactive portions of said strip.But as far as the actual pH, I’m sure someone used a properly calibrated meter or at least titrated the filtrate. Any way, it was just a really bad idea to back up acidic water, under pressure, into miles of nook and fissures in miles of rock containing the metals that every Apple Iwhatever uses.

  13. EPA asserting “sovereign immunity” ! They are not sovereign! The federal government is a creation of the states and is directed by the Constitution to be SERVENT. Time to push this pig back into it’s box….pg

  14. When a Chevron pipeline burst and spilled oil down Red Butte Creek, the government bean counters were quick to demand that money be set aside.

    Our city councilman held a meeting to assure everyone that the money was going into a fund, and they would make sure Chevron paid. My sister asked them what the money was going to be spent on, and her question was met with an awkward silence. Apparently they thought it was going to be their own private slush fund, for whatever they deemed appropriate, and never thought about the actual cost of remediation when demanding money.

    Over time the remediation did take place and the property owners alongside the stream are still in litigation with Chevron over additional damages to the value of their properties.

    If the EPA had triggered the same spill, I’m sure they would have flown in for a quick press conference, said “OOPS!” and left our community out to dry.

  15. The only meaningful punishment would be to cut the EPA budget by an amount necessary to cover the damages, leaving them just enough over to keep the lights on.

    • You are much too kind.
      I would sell the buildings vehicles they use, fire the lot of them, and take the remedial funds needed to fix this out of thier pension funds.

    • Right idea, wrong monetary target. Don’t hit them in their budget, they’ll just go crying poverty to congress next year and get the money back plus interest. You can’t really punish the agency as a whole (it’s not a person) but you can punish the people involved.

      Hit them directly in the personal pocketbook. Absolutely anyone involved in this incident, from the agency director on down, does not get a raise, promotion, or bonus of ANY kind for the next 5 years. Either that, or they resign and are ineligible for federal employment for the next 5 years. Any contractor involved has their contract ended and they are ineligible for any federal contract for the next 5 years.

      If they decide to stay on the job, the next 5 years will NOT count towards seniority or any other metric measured by years on the job (including retirement benefits). This prevents the promotions, etc. from buffering and the person getting 5 years worth of promotions, pay grade increases, etc all at once when the 5 years is up. If they’re involved in another such incident within that time, the 5 year clock is reset.

      An example:
      A 10 year agency veteran is involved in a colossal clusterfrak like this. Five years from now, he’ll still be a 10 year veteran. As far as raises, promotions, bonuses, and retirement benefits are concerned, those 5 years never happened. They should consider themselves lucky they still have a job.

  16. The site also cannot be crawled by the internet archive because of robots.txt placed in the website to prevent crawling. What are they tring to hide?

  17. As a Brit I find the general level of antipathy towards the EPA to be mystifying. In Britain we have a broadly similar body called the Environment Agency. They drop a few clangers sometimes but generally there is no particular dislike of them as they would be seen to be generally on the environments side and against those who would want to pollute or degrade it.

    What’s the back story on the EPA so that I see this continuous narrative of dislike at best, hatred at worst?

    tonyb

    • The EPA is controlled by the white house , congress has no oversight or control.
      As such, it can be used as a political weapon with not much in the way of limits.
      If it exsisted in other western countries,and tried some of its more unsavoury tactics, there would likely be jail time for some of its directors.
      It also has a disdain for releasing FOIA documents.

      • Don’t forget sue and settle.
        EPA pays off NGOs and their lawyers.
        Some of the money gets kicked back to the democrats for vote buying.
        John Beale and Richard Windsor got away with screwing the American people.

    • This is a bit more than a clanger. Imagine the uproar if this had been done by a Mining company, it would have been on international news in 400 languages, the lead story in the Guardian for 4 weeks, we’d be hearing about all those poor old fish, riverbank animals, wildlife that drink from the rivers, the crops that are laid waste because the watering system is out of use. But no, if the authorities do it, it obviously has none of those effects.

    • I am both American and British and a mining engineer and deal with both the EPA in US and the EA in UK. To summarise, the EA is essentially idealistic but naive while the EPA is totally focused on assigning “financial responsibility”, for which read “blame”. This is not the first time they have screwed up in the Animas drainage – the Summitville fiasco twenty years ago was a classic. The EPA then sued, not the company involved, but the CEO personally for huge sums.

      The really sad thing is that years ago the mining industry in Colorado offered to perform remediation work on old mines, particularly in the Silverton area, that predated the modern permitting and site closure practices but were essentially told “if you touch it, you become responsible”, so nothing was done. See http://www.northernminer.com/news/editorial–opinion–epa-s-bungled-summitville-cleanup–glass-houses/1000102146/

      • You are describing one of the unintended consequences of the “Superfund” project seeking to clean up toxic sites from years ago. Anyone who could be seen as becoming a responsible party could find themselves responsible for the entire cleanup costs of the site. This really discouraged people who had many innovative ideas of possible uses for the sites.

    • Stay away from us! You live in some really misguided world.Your own Gov’t is messed up when they changed from coal to nat. gas to some new style of energy!Show me how it works in your latitude.?You do realize your very far north!Wake up and freeze.

    • limatereason commented: “What’s the back story on the EPA so that I see this continuous narrative of dislike at best, hatred at worst?”

      The EPA declared CO2 a hazardous pollutant and is proceeding to shutter businesses and energy production facilities to support their edict. Can the EA change the facts of science/life to back a political mandate?

  18. Governments are hard to prosecute.

    We had an accident in my country in 1995 where 14 people were killed by a negligent government department. Eventually there were a few resignations but no one got prosecuted. Crown immunity of some sort it seems.
    Some blamed government spending cuts but it was clearly and simply an administration that had no control over its employees or any way to check their performance.

    http://my.christchurchcitylibraries.com/cave-creek/

    In China the top executive would have been shot, in Japan he would have committed suicide, but in the western world government employees cower but are never to blame and never would admit it.

    Cheers

    Roger
    http://www.thedemiseofchristchurch.com

  19. not sure about the figures in the following, but putting it up for others to critique:

    18 Aug: Washington Examiner: John Siciliano : Cost of EPA’s toxic spill could soar to nearly $30 billion
    The cost of cleaning up a major toxic waste spill in the West caused by an Environmental Protection Agency contractor could soar as high as $27.7 billion.
    That’s the conclusion of study released Tuesday morning by the right-leaning American Action Forum…
    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/cost-of-epas-toxic-spill-could-soar-to-nearly-30-billion/article/2570378#!

  20. Have you seen this at Bishop Hill? http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2015/8/13/is-there-a-backstory-to-the-epa-pollution-incident.html

    One of the comments has a link to this site with a more readable version of the letter from a mining engineer who predicts what will happen. Unlike climate predictions, this one took place before the event happened: http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2015/08/letter-to-editor-predicted-colorado-epa-spill-one-week-before-catastrophe-so-epa-could-secure-superfund-cash/

  21. Does anyone know if , in fact, you could drink the water from the Animas and San Juan to start with? I have hiked for many years in the Colorado area and the general advice is to not drink the water because you don’t know which mine is leaking into the source.

      • That’s the point. It can _look_ wonderful. You can’t see As or Cd or whatever in beautiful clear water. But many many streams in the Rocky Mt states are contaminated with mining leakage, which is why the EPA was there in the first place.

    • traffy says:

      …many streams in the Rocky Mt states are contaminated with mining leakage, which is why the EPA was there in the first place.

      Obviously you haven’t followed this story very closely. The main reason the EPA was on that river was explained in detail in a ‘letter to the editor’ of the local paper, the month before the disaster.

      The same geologist predicted exactly what would happen. The EPA was not there to prevent a disaster, they were there to cause a disaster, which is what they did. (See his letter in Henry Bowman’s post below.)

      The EPA is thoroughly corrupt from the top down. EPA chief administrator McCarthy turned a blind eye to her subordinate’s ongoing corruption. As his direct boss, McCarthy either knew what he was doing, or she should have known. She deserves to lose her job. Why is she still employed at taxpayer expense?

      McCarthy’s subordinate is going to jail for years — but she skates?? That is wrong. The guy was the highest paid EPA employee. And how did he spend his time? He says he was…

      …”trying to find ways to fine tune the capitalist system”

      He’s probably better than a lot of them. Plenty of EPA employees are trying to destroy our system.

    • Don’t blame mines for everything. Mountain water runoff is often naturally contaminated, to some degree, with metals and metal oxides; this is the case with Animas river, Beaver creek, and many other rivers in Rocky Mountains. Natural contamination can be serious pp for example, there is no fish in parts of Beaver creek (flowing East from the Wolf Creek pass toward San Louis valley).

      The really clean “mountain water” is glacier runoff water. This is why Iceland has, probably, the best cold water in the world, though their geothermally heated hot water stinks with H2S, no matter how they try to prevent it. Rocky Mountains don’t have permanent glaciers; snow cover and groundwater tables here in Colorado vary wildly year-to-year.

      • You might just try the run off from the Cascades. You can use it to fill your battery instead of distilled water.

        But, for the mountain states, how do you know that mines are not responsible? They are everywhere.

  22. I have a contact who works at EPA. I mentioned this to him. EPA has issued a “legal hold” on all related documents related to the spill, and operations leading up to it.

    I don’t know how common it is to retract documents already made public when a legal hold is issued.

    It certainly is a convenient excuse.

  23. Below is a copy of a letter to the editor of the Silverton Standard published July 30, 2015, six days before the release. I have not followed the link provided by graphicconception above, but the letter may be the same. The author is apparently a retired geologist.

    Editor:

    I came to Silverton this summer to enjoy my retirement, appreciate nature and prospect the mountains for unique minerals. I came here to enjoy a simple life with no TV and no politics, but unfortunately that has changed. Your EPA dilemma has caused my blood to boil.

    Based on my 47 years of experience as a professional geologist, it appears to me that the EPA is setting your town and the area up for a possible Superfund blitzkrieg.

    In regards to your meeting with the EPA on June 23, Mr. Hestmark’s (EPA representative) statement “we don’t have an agenda” is either ignorant naivety or an outright falsehood. I am certain Mr. Hestmark’s hydrologists have advised him what’s going to happen when the Red & Bonita portals and plugged and the “grand experiment” begins with unknown and foreseeable results and possible negative consequences.

    Here’s the scenario that will occur based on my experience: Following the plugging, the exfiltrating water will be retained behind the bulkheads, accumulating at a rate of approximately 500 gallons per minute. As the water backs up, it will begin filling all connected mine workings and bedrock voids and fractures. As the water level inside the workings continues to rise, it will accumulate head pressure at a rate of 1 PSI per each 2.31 feet of vertical rise. As the water continues to migrate through and fill interconnected workings, the pressure will increase. Eventually, without a doubt, the water will find a way out and will exfiltrate uncontrollably through connected abandoned shafts, drifts, raises, fractures and possibly from talus on the hillsides. Initially it will appear that the miracle fix is working.

    “Hallelujah!”

    But make no mistake, with in seven to 120 days all of the 500 gpm flow will return to Cement Creek. Contamination may actually increase due to disturbance and flushing action within the workings.

    The “grand experiment” in my opinion will fail. And guess what Mr. Hestmark will say then?

    Gee, “Plan A” didn’t work so I guess we will have to build a treatment 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. The proposed Red & Bonita plugging plan has been their way of getting a foot in the door to justify their hidden agenda for construction of a treatment plant. After all, with a budget of $8.2 billion and 17,000 employees, the EPA needs new, big projects to feed the best and justify their existence.

    I would recommend that anyone who owns a home, property water well or spring in the Cement Creek drainage take water samples ASAP to protect themselves from groundwater changes that may be caused by the EPA plugging operation!

    God bless America! God bless Silverton, Colorado. And God protect us from the EPA.

    — Dave Taylor, Farmington

    • You might just try the run off from the Cascades. You can use it to fill your battery instead of distilled water.

      But, for the mountain states, how do you know that mines are not responsible? They are everywhere.

    • first off, it should be obvious that he did not predict what happened, not even close.

      “But make no mistake, with in seven to 120 days all of the 500 gpm flow will return to Cement Creek. ”

      So the way I read this, is that the flow was already continuously been going to Cement Creek.

      Which was why the EPA was there in the first place.

  24. Forget Walmart Watch by the unions, we need Agency Watch with many branches and coordinated connections. That also means Administration Watch because they are placing the many thousand unqualified political appointees in the agencies.

  25. Does Hickenlooper also drink brown water? I suppose so if it involves payments and favors from DC in return.

  26. This reminds me of the environmental cock-ups that used to happen in the good old Soviet Union. Same mentality, same outcomes, I guess.

    • Environmental disasters were a regular modus operandi in the USSR but most of them went under the radar of the Western media. Europeans and Americans knew about the disappearance of the Aral sea, some journalists heard something about the Brezhnev’s infamous plan to turn great Siberian rivers into the Kazakh steppes using nuclear explosions (even Soviet scientists were so outraged that some of them started to write collectively signed letters about it to the UN). Drinking vodka while shooting hundreds of deer from helicopter with a military Gatling gun was Brezhnev’s idea of relaxation in the wild.

      But known disasters were just the tip of the bloody iceberg. I remember walking in the forest near Iskitim, in Western Siberia, where every step would raise a choking cloud of cement dust from the nearby factory. This dust covered hundreds of square kilometers of the pine forest. Exhaust pipes of the biological weapon factories would stick above ground in the fields of Koltsovo, north of the Siberian Academy Town (Soviet imitation of Los Alamos) — everyone knew not to go near those places. And how could one forget bright green sunsets over Cherepovets, in St. Petersburg area, where copper compounds made air especially colorful!

      Please, don’t forget that a large and influential part of the American Academia still consists of unapologetic, convinced Marxists (the kind of people young Obama messed around). Subversion of humanities is complete; now they expand into natural sciences. Americans are far too lenient with these virulent social disease carriers.

  27. Anthony and Paul,

    The thing I haven’t seen posted anywhere is, “What’s going to happen when this load of poison reaches Lake Mead, Southern California’s and Las Vegas’ water supply? Are we suppose to think this stuff won’t impact those people for some reason? Those 20+ Million people?

    Your thoughts please!

    Davet916

  28. In a related development, the EPA announced today that they will no longer be posting their incident reports on the private email server of the former Secretary of State. /sarcoff

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