Friday Not So Funny – EPA's epic Gold King mine blunder on video, complete with a WTF moment

Readers may recall that the EPA disappeared photos of the Gold King mine disaster from their web page. Perhaps they got just a bit burnt from the public backlash to that.

From YouTube, (h/t to Ryan Maue) EPA releases Gold King Mine blowout footage.

Gotta love the comments from the audio such as:

‘Get outta here?!… What do we do now?’

On September 2, 2015 EPA posted the following edited footage filmed by EPA contractors of the Gold King Mine blowout of August 5, 2015.

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September 11, 2015 11:13 am

Idiots! Drive the cat so the blade blocks the opening and use the track hoe to fill the opening in front of the blade. Will we loose the cat? Probably. Contractor more concerned about their equipment than stopping th damage they have done.

Reply to  Paul
September 11, 2015 11:19 am

I very much doubt the cat could have done anything at that point.

Reply to  Numps
September 11, 2015 12:00 pm

At the beginning it wasn’t wasn’t very high volume. I think they could have collapsed the opening if they tried.

Reply to  Larry
September 11, 2015 12:01 pm

I think the pressure would have broken through the heap of soil regardless.

Proud Skeptic
Reply to  Numps
September 11, 2015 12:55 pm

35 Years in construction…nope…once this sucker started flowing it was all over. What a pathetic display of incompetence!

Reply to  Numps
September 11, 2015 5:36 pm

They definitely could have stopped it if they shoveled dirt back into the opening right away.
It was only after the hole was eroded by the rapidity of the flow that it got large enough to allow that torrent to pass out of the mine.
This is like if an earthen dam is overtopped by water…at first it could be stopped by sandbags, but once it gets going, the water makes the opening bigger which allows more water and the snowball effect takes over.

Paul (another)
Reply to  Paul
September 11, 2015 11:34 am

“Will we loose the cat? Probably.”
Unfortunately loosing the Cat means loosing the Cat operator(s) too, and I don’t blame them for watching at that point. The contractors are told to do the work, whomever gave the orders to do that work are responsible.
But to create running water over loose material? Not sure what the goal was in the first place?

Steve P
Reply to  Paul (another)
September 11, 2015 12:09 pm

Please; lose not loose, in this usage.
Loose and lose are distinct words, the former an adjective, the latter a verb.
Did they lose the Cat? Did someone have a screw loose? Did the home team lose? Are the Cat’s pajamas loose? What about loose ends? Who let loose the dirty torrent?
also: Whoever gave the orders to do that work is responsible.

Lars P.
Reply to  Paul (another)
September 11, 2015 12:15 pm

Exactly. Very confusing what was the goal. What did they expect it would happen others than what has happened?
Not that I’m a specialist in such activity, but that seemed to me the only result that it would came out…

Paul (another)
Reply to  Paul (another)
September 11, 2015 1:31 pm

Steve, thanks for the grammar lesson(s). It was a quick post while debugging.

Reply to  Paul (another)
September 11, 2015 1:37 pm

The problem is caused partly by spell-checkers, partly by the education system, and partly by the way the English language develops. If they maid spelling and grammar moor important in schools then their mite knot bee sew many errors, but is it really worth trying to fix? IMHO it is more important to get thinking into schools.

george e. smith
Reply to  Paul (another)
September 11, 2015 2:11 pm

I would say it is more important to get government thinking, OUT of schools.
Common core is simply a government data mining virus, designed to catalog the next generations of mindless kids, to do the government’s bidding.
It has very little to do with teaching any branch of mathematics.
If you have kids in the public schools, you should find a way to get them out of there while they still have a thinking brain.

Reply to  Paul (another)
September 11, 2015 5:38 pm

Eggzackly Mike!

Paul K (aka Paul)
Reply to  Paul (another)
September 11, 2015 6:21 pm

“The problem is caused …partly by the education system…”
I was in the first wave to be bused for racial integration. Makes for a poor foundation, but I’m sure they had good intentions…

Reply to  Paul (another)
September 11, 2015 11:29 pm

Steve P
September 11, 2015 at 12:09 pm

Please; lose not loose, in this usage.
Loose and lose are distinct words, the former an adjective, the latter a verb

err … wrong way around. Loose is correct:
Loose and lose are distinct words, the latter an adjective, the former a verb

Ed Maple
Reply to  Paul
September 11, 2015 2:10 pm

Yes, you are an idiot if you think they could have stopped it.

Reply to  Ed Maple
September 11, 2015 5:11 pm

The time to have solved this problem was by foreseeing what might have happened and worked to prevent it. Once the EPA plugged one mine and busted open the Gold King, it was too late.

Reply to  Ed Maple
September 11, 2015 5:45 pm

It was a trickle at first.
The question is, at what point did they realize they it was going to get out of hand?
At the opening of the video, one shovelful f dirt would have stopped the flow.
I do not think there was a low of head built up at the opening…it was likely a long straight shaft filled with a large volume of water, and it was the flow that eroded the floor of the opening that let the flow increase.
If there was pressure built up behind that opening, you would not see a hole with only the bottom fifth of it flowing. Ditto if the water back there was higher than the opening…dirt would have never contained it to begin with.
Take any earthen dam in the world, and dig a narrow trench along the top, just deep enough to let a trickle pass through. Then stand back…the entire dam will fail from such a thing. This looks to be what happened there.
Basic hydrology.

Reply to  Ed Maple
September 11, 2015 5:46 pm

Sorry, “…a lot of head…”.

Reply to  Paul
September 12, 2015 5:15 pm

I’m not sure what’s happening here. It looks to me like they were digging into the side of the hill, into an old shaft they filled with liquid mine waste…? I don’t get it? Anyone know the big picture here?

Reply to  Sarthurk
September 15, 2015 2:55 pm

Let me know if know. .

September 11, 2015 11:14 am

This vid is priceless …

Reply to  bobburban
September 11, 2015 8:35 pm

The EPA should be made to mine and pan for any gold nuggets loosened by this blow-out to pay for their own environmental damage.

Reply to  Slywolfe
September 11, 2015 11:32 am

I say scrap the entire EPA. And start over.

Reply to  csanborn
September 11, 2015 3:40 pm

Let States handle it.

Lady Gaiagaia
Reply to  csanborn
September 11, 2015 3:51 pm

Same with OSHA and most of the rest of the alphabetic monstrosities.

Barbara Skolaut
Reply to  csanborn
September 11, 2015 5:00 pm

I say scrap the entire EPA and don’t start over.
Leave it to the states; some will fail spectacularly, some won’t. If people won’t vote the worthless, corrupt state b@st@rds out, they can vote with their feet.
The feds have NO responsibility unless/until there’s a problem across state lines.

Reply to  csanborn
September 11, 2015 5:12 pm

Seriously, one accident and “scrap the EPA” is the first thing you want to do? Kindly sod off…
Had these mines been properly regulated and held to proper standards and practices relating to safety and storage of mining waste & wastewater, this probably wouldn’t have happened. We need a stronger EPA not a “no EPA” or a “leave it to the States to fuck up their own environments like at the turn of the century…”

Reply to  csanborn
September 11, 2015 8:33 pm

Michael Gmirkin,
These mines were shut down over a century ago, They were not leaking then. Even recently, the leak was from other mines, not from Gold King. The EPA decided that they should plug these other mines. Only the brilliant people at the EPA would think that plugging a leak will cause the water to disappear. Well, it did not vanish, instead it built head in those other mines until the water filled up Gold King. When the water found its way out, it was still a relatively small leak. The EPA should have drilled a small test hole to evaluate the situation, but they did not. Instead, they dug out the area where the leak was. If you look at the video, you can see that this was a large excavation. When the EPA broke through the small leak became a large leak, and then a torrent.
The management in charge of the operation was the EPA. If this had been a private company that caused this disaster, the project manager and project engineer would be in jail now. So who from the EPA is cooling their heels in jail? No One! Instead, the EPA is getting cover from people who want to hold people accountable who died 50 years ago.

Reply to  csanborn
September 11, 2015 9:49 pm

Sorry Micheal you are so wrong…the EPA is out of control and is only a political tool at this point. They haven’t done anything right for several decades….remember they are the ones that declared CO2 a pollutant….if that isn’t enough for you you are obviously beyond hope

Reply to  csanborn
September 12, 2015 1:56 pm

Seriously, one accident and “scrap the EPA” is the first thing you want to do?

Nope. Obviously we need a Federal agency to regulate the EPA, as they obviously cannot self-regulate.

We need a stronger EPA …

Nope. A weaker EPA wouldn’t have had the power to destroy the environment in multiple states through such reckless negligence that there are legitimate arguments about it being an act of malice. This is why we need a Federal agency to regulate the EPA.
As you can see, appeals to more bureaucracy quickly become absurd. Especially when the bureaucracy is at fault. The proper answer, in every single case, is to remember the Nuremberg trial answer that “Following orders is not an excuse.” Then start with the boiled rope at the top. Either you run out of rope before you get down to all the peons or you don’t.

Reply to  csanborn
September 13, 2015 6:19 pm

State function. Period.

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  Slywolfe
September 11, 2015 2:13 pm

Great sentiment. The Republicans won’t do it though because …

Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
September 11, 2015 3:40 pm

At least some of them notice.

September 11, 2015 11:19 am

Holy crap!

September 11, 2015 11:22 am

They are just helpless without the “blame it on asthma” routine and other form-fit over reach science templates.

September 11, 2015 11:22 am

“Do not run! We are your friends!”

September 11, 2015 11:32 am
Reply to  graphicconception
September 11, 2015 4:22 pm
September 11, 2015 11:33 am

More proof of MMGW. /sarc

September 11, 2015 11:35 am

I don’t understand what they were doing in the first place. Why were they digging?

Ian W
Reply to  katherine009
September 11, 2015 1:31 pm

They were there and digging to create a spill that could be blamed on the Gold King mine owners. The spill was far more than they seemed to expect to the extent they were suddenly operating in the full glare of undeniable publicity. Their initial attempts to follow the preplanned script had to be abandoned. Now they don’t know where to go so are trying to talk down the spill in a way that is directly contrary to the way they would be doing had the spill been due to the mine owners.

Reply to  Ian W
September 11, 2015 4:27 pm

I have worked for years for EPA and other agencies. We waited and waited to respond to the BP spill. Nothing. A drop of oil in water and no approval from DC….until it started to hit shore. At that point, the states took over along with the collection of 3x the cost of remediation and cleanup. That is when DC decided to do something, long after the spread of the oil sheen. It was more important to scare their lofos into thinking the world was ending.

September 11, 2015 11:39 am

All my childhood we went fishing/camping on the Animas River in Colorado. The water was crystal clear and you could see the fish quite easily. I am horrified at the destruction of that habitat by the EPA.

Reply to  emsnews
September 11, 2015 2:40 pm

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

September 11, 2015 11:40 am

I look forward to someone relevant being brought to account.

Reply to  jones
September 11, 2015 11:52 am

They will go after the kayakers before they do anything against a fellow union employee.

Tom J
Reply to  jones
September 11, 2015 3:47 pm

It’s Bush’s fault.

Steve P
Reply to  Tom J
September 11, 2015 4:54 pm

This is what I call the 1000 Strawmen fallacy.

Reply to  jones
September 11, 2015 5:12 pm

Please don’t hold your breath while you wait.

Reply to  jones
September 12, 2015 10:33 am

There should be an inquiry into just what the devil the EPA thought they were doing, who was in charge, who gave the order to dig and for what purpose. If the intent was to create a mini disaster for propaganda purposes, taxpayers need to know. This sort of smells like another “Fast and Furious” style fiasco. By the way, has anyone ever been held to account for that?

Tom in Denver
September 11, 2015 11:41 am

Does the EPA not employ any Engineers, or hydrologists? Do they not understand the concept of Hydro-static Head?
I blame this on management for not providing the proper expertise to plan this out.
If this was a private company there would be people in jail for this, Which EPA manager is going to jail?

Reply to  Tom in Denver
September 11, 2015 12:29 pm

Does the EPA not employ any Engineers, or hydrologists? Do they not understand the concept of Hydro-static Head?
Computers do that stuff nowadays, and no one really knows how to do it anymore without clicking on a screen.

Caligula Jones
Reply to  Tom in Denver
September 11, 2015 12:32 pm

“Does the EPA not employ any Engineers, or hydrologists?”
I imagine they had to lay a few off to hire the inevitable New Age positions, such as Chief Tree Hugger, Executive Bunny Counter and Vice-President of Equity Hiring.

Matt Bergin
Reply to  Tom in Denver
September 11, 2015 12:34 pm

Tom you don’t have to be a Engineer, or a hydrologist to understand what would happen. I could have told them, what the result of blocking the mine would be, before I finished high school. The EPA just created an underground dam and any idiot knows that you don’t empty a dam by starting at the bottom. Like the man who wrote the letter to the editor a week before the disaster I can only conclude that this was planned in advance to create a crisis so the EPA could grab some more control. The EPA should be in court for this and many heads should roll.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  Tom in Denver
September 11, 2015 12:51 pm

I’ve worked opposite their people. They employ people with the title of “engineer”, but most don’t deserve it. The ones that aren’t in it for power are in it for eco-power and genuinely believe their hype. They isolate themselves from reality so well that even other departments get tired with them (there’s a story were a Fish and Wildlife rep actually lost his temper told them to shut up during a CO2 permit meeting).
Anyone decent at their job and right in the head inevitably goes to the private sector for twice the pay.

Geoff Withnell
Reply to  Ben of Houston
September 11, 2015 2:05 pm

I have worked in positions where my title included the word “engineer”. I have come to the conclusion that – as is already true in much of Europe – to be called an engineer, you should be a Registered Professional Engineer, just as to be called a medical doctor you must hold the appropriate license. A quack engineer can kill more people and do more damage than a quack doctor.

Reply to  Tom in Denver
September 11, 2015 2:45 pm

I suspect, as said above, that they already had a whipping boy lined up who would be told “You DID build that,” blamed for the spill, and fined a billion dollars. But the EPA corruption level has gone beyond that point and the result reflects their deliberate malfeasance.

Reply to  Tom in Denver
September 11, 2015 5:15 pm

I believe that you will find that the EPA hires mostly attorneys, not engineers or scientists. It was that way when I lived in the DC area and I doubt that it has changed.

September 11, 2015 11:41 am

Bet they stiff the cat operator though instead.

September 11, 2015 11:41 am

The EPA has always done more damage to America than good. This video is proof of one instance of the EPA being involved in a crime that would send a private individual to prison for life. The government (the state) is a criminal gang writ large. (H/T Rothbard)

Steve P
Reply to  markstoval
September 11, 2015 1:39 pm

Yeah, ‘much better to go back to smoggy cities, trashy streets, and burning rivers.

Ian W
Reply to  Steve P
September 11, 2015 3:15 pm

Steve P – What a straw man.
Drains need to be clean to stop them smelling, so they are cleaned perhaps disinfected. Insistence that drains need to be sterile, prevents them being used as drains. This is the way EPA is killing industry using false linear projections. Telling them to return to just clean drains will not cause smells and disease.
The EPA has outlived it’s usefulness and should be replaced by a conference of State environmental representatives

Reply to  Steve P
September 11, 2015 3:20 pm

Which were the result of govt in the first place.
It was the govt that eliminated riparian rights so that wealthy contributors could pollute without having to worry about being sued.

Steve P
Reply to  Steve P
September 11, 2015 4:29 pm

Sorry Ian, you’re the one trying to peddle strawmen here.
I wasn’t talking about smelly drains; I was talking about real environmental problems like smog, litterbugs, and burning rivers. These and related issues were recognized as big problems in past decades, but you really had to be there, I suppose, to see the many improvements in our environment over the years that younger people take for granted today.
Did you live in LA, or Orange Co. in the 40s, 50s, 60s or 70s when the smog was really bad in Southern California, (and elsewhere)?
I did.
Back in the 70s, I rode my Honda CB350G through the orange smog in LA and Orange Co. while working and going to school. At times the smog was so nasty I’d arrive home via the 22 and 5 with tears streaming down my face. (Eventually, I gave up trying to explain to my girlfriend that my tears had nothing to do with our relationship, but she was extraordinarily creative in countering my explanations with her own self-centered rationalizations. That was my gorgeous ex-fiancé.)
Older folks know that America has cleaned-up its act. Foreign visitors commonly remark about how clean it is in the USA. Like it or not, at least some of the credit for our cleaner environment must go to the EPA.
Like all bureaucracies, the EPA has probably become bloated with paper shufflers, seat warmers, family friends, ideologues, functionairies, apparatchiks, beneficiaries of affirmative action, and other such incompetent hacks, who swell its ranks, but diminish its effectiveness. Upper management positions in bureaucracies are commonly as much political rewards, as they are positions of achievement and excellence.
It’s a big problem, but unfortunately, that’s the way our system works since we humans have “domesticated ourselves.”
Our system also promotes cozy arrangements between government bureaucracies, and big business. These days that set-up is often termed Crony Capitalism…
The growth of corrupt bureaucracies is recorded in the Chinese Dynastic Cycles, where their appearance is usually prelude to growing dissatisfaction among the peasantry and other disenfranchised classes, which leads to revolution, and the establishment of a new dynasty, which institutes reforms, but which also eventually repeats the cycle.
Bottom lines: Give credit where credit is due, and don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.
(I lost connection while this was ‘posting’; apologies if this 2nd attempt turns out to be a duplicate)

Reply to  Steve P
September 11, 2015 5:48 pm

Steve P,
You make a good point: almost all of the pollution has been cleaned up. Scrubbers on coal plants have eliminated more than 99% of all emissions. Now the only thing coming from their stacks is harmless CO2 and H2O. Industry no longer dumps waste into rivers. In fact, the biosphere is expanding due to the added CO2. The environment is far cleaner than it ever was before.
So while the early EPA may have done some good, like every bureaucracy it has put its own self-interest above that of the country and the environment. Ms. McCarthy should not have a job in the EPA after this latest disaster. But as we see, she’s entrenched.
The entire EPA should be put on unemployment, along with the Dep’t of Energy, the Education Department, Homeland Security, and most all the bureaucracies that are not named here. They are Lamprey eels, permanently attached to the taxpayer host. They suck the country dry, and the only reason the U.S. hasn’t been bankrupted by them is because almost every other country is even worse off.
• The Enerrgy Department has yet to produce one barrel of oil.
• The EPA destroys the environment, as we see here. When it isn’t wrecking the countryside, it is harassing citizens.
• Homeland Security’s job is fit for the military, the police, and the National Guard in every State. As it is, they steal travelers blind and grope to their heart’s content.
• And of course the Education Department has dumbed-down a couple of generations in their .edu factories; test scores keep declining, even though costs have skyrocketed.
The country should revert to President FDR’s requirement that all government jobs must be non-union. That would be a start. But with half the population on the dole, and a big fraction of those remaining employed as government bureaucrats, it looks like we’ve passed the point of no return. Now I’d be happy if the EPA was simply required to have a cost/benefit analysis done by a private company for any proposed actions, rules, or requirements. But that’s probably a hopeless dream, too.

old engineer
Reply to  Steve P
September 11, 2015 7:29 pm

Steve, you are correct. In the past EPA achieved a lot. I worked for an organization that was a contractor to EPA from the EPA’s inception. The early ’70’s were enjoyable. The EPA had a big job to do and not many people to do it. The engineers in those days were smart and competent. Gradually though, as pollution was cleaned up and goals began to be met, things changed. In the mid-’80’s, politics became as important as engineering. By the mid-’90’s politics was more important than engineering. The EPA had become a mature government agency. Now preservation of organization is the main objective..

Reply to  Steve P
September 12, 2015 4:58 am

It takes the uninformed to believe that only government can clean up pollution. In East Tennessee there is one main area of pollution and that is the government run facilitates in Oak Ridge, Tn. If you want to see chemical and nuclear pollution then head over to … oh wait … getting real information there is a bit of a problem … national security and all that. Oh well. On the other hand, we are all happy to talk about the ecological disasters that occurred under the old Communist States in Europe. You might still be able to get some information on those little disasters.
If any citizen could go to a fair court to get compensation from any polluter that had damaged him or his property then we would be far cleaner than having the State enforce its rules to the benefit of its favorites and the detriment of the little, mundane people. But in the USA, the main polluters are immune from me bringing lawsuit against them — that privilege is reserved for the criminal gang we call “government”.

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable. ~~ H. L. Mencken

Ian W
Reply to  Steve P
September 13, 2015 12:02 pm

Steve P
September 11, 2015 at 4:29 pm
You appear to have misunderstood the analogy that I gave you.
The EPA in the cases you quote had ‘disinfected the drains’. The smogs have been cleared the water is clean and industry uses scrubbers on smokestacks – and yes I know what air pollution is like I lived in London when it was known as ‘the smoke’ and London smogs were yellow – a clean air act resulted in the London smogs stopping by the 1960’s.
However, what EPA is doing now in analogy is insisting on the drains not just being clean but sterile, thus preventing their use as drains. This is either make work to justify the EPA existence – but more likely is a politically driven process.

Barbara Skolaut
Reply to  markstoval
September 11, 2015 5:03 pm


Reply to  markstoval
September 11, 2015 6:14 pm

Steve P on September 11, 2015 at 1:39 pm
Yeah, ‘much better to go back to smoggy cities, trashy streets, and burning rivers.

Steve P,
The EPA was not the solution.

Quote by Ludwig Von Mises
“If one rejects laissez faire on account of man’s fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action.”
Planning for Freedom, p. 44


Steve P
Reply to  John Whitman
September 11, 2015 7:27 pm

If the EPA was not the solution, what was?
I think Von Mises has indulged in a flight of logic here, with a kind of equivocation. Man’s moral weakness may make a fool piss in the fountain…and the rest of us should just stand by, and let him do it? No, I submit it takes moral strength to promulgate laws and ordinances to protect the common man from the fool, the thief, the drunk driver, the murderer.
In this world, there are competent people, and there are incompetent people*. It is the responsibility of the former to protect us from the latter. When important positions are filled with competent and honest people, we have a much better chance of a successful outcome. irrespective of the field of endeavor.
It may be an imperfect system, but it’s all we have, beyond vigilantism, or chaos.
*“Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere”
–G.K. Chesterton

Reply to  John Whitman
September 11, 2015 8:14 pm

If the EPA was not the solution, what was?
Where in the Constitution does it say anything about the environment?
It says plenty about who does what:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. [10th Amendment]
The States should be the entities that protect their environments, and the feds should butt out.
Out of fifty States, some will find better answers than others. Their example will be followed. That is a much better solution than having a one-size-fits-all, overbearing, arrogant, overtly political and incompetent federal department.
Look at what the EPA has morphed into. Explain why that is a better solution than what the Constitution mandates.

Steve P
Reply to  John Whitman
September 11, 2015 8:48 pm

I think it’s in here somewhere:
–We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
In my view, promoting the general welfare would certainly include protecting the environment, especially with a view to securing the blessings of liberty to our posterity.

Steve P
Reply to  John Whitman
September 11, 2015 9:16 pm

And obviously, you’ll get no argument from me that, as you note, the EPA has morphed into a corrupt political entity, witness the ruling on CO₂ = pollutant.
Still, rather than succumb entirely to cynicism, I retain enough idealism on good days to envision a kind of meritocracy, where the truly honest and competent would run things. To get there, we’d have to eliminate the classic vices, or at least corporate campaign contributions.

Reply to  John Whitman
September 11, 2015 9:26 pm

Steve P,
My god man, did you ever take a civics class? You’ve just demonstrated you know absolutely nothing about the supreme law of our country. Are you a US citizen? God, I hope not. You’re reading the preamble which carries absolutely ZERO authority to do anything.
The areas of regulation/law making are quite clearly spelled out in Article I, Section 8. These are LIMITED. You can count them (there are 18). Show me where the US government has the authority you claim. SHOW ME! The constitution clearly spells out the limits by specifically enumerating the powers and then HAMMERS IT HOME by stating very clearly in the Bill of Rights (Amendment X), “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

Reply to  John Whitman
September 11, 2015 9:30 pm

To get there, we’d have to eliminate the classic vices, or at least corporate campaign contributions.

So how about union campaign contributions. Are you willing to get rid of those as well, or are you of the belief that those are pure and it’s only the big bad corporations that are somehow corrupt?

Steve P
Reply to  John Whitman
September 11, 2015 9:45 pm

Boulder Skeptic
September 11, 2015 at 9:26 pm
“Are you a US citizen? God, I hope not.”
As a USAF veteran who served 1964-1971, I find your remark disgusting, lamentable, and pathetic. I have only pity for you.

Reply to  John Whitman
September 11, 2015 10:09 pm

I find your knowledge of our Constitution “disgusting, lamentable, and pathetic”. I’m a USAF veteran as well (1986-1992, Desert Storm). So there.

Reply to  John Whitman
September 11, 2015 10:24 pm

I think it’s in here somewhere:

And just as expected, no response to the issue at hand, but rather some misdirection.
I’ll try again: show me where the US government has the authority you claim.
1. I strongly suggest you actually read and learn the meaning and contents of the Constitution.
2. If you want our country to stay great, you should only vote for people who truly understand and adhere to the Constitution (because that document is largely responsible for this nation’s greatness in the first place).
3. If you are unwilling to do steps 1 and 2, stop voting, please.
As a veteran, like myself, you took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, even with your life, that most citizens don’t take. You really should know what the hell it says and means. Otherwise, think about it, what good is the oath?
Limited government, states rights and individual rights/liberty are the essence of the Constitution.
A link that I find very helpful…

Steve P
Reply to  John Whitman
September 11, 2015 11:41 pm

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
Tell me, to whom does the last word apply?

Steve P
Reply to  John Whitman
September 12, 2015 1:14 am

September 11, 2015 at 8:14 pm
“Where in the Constitution does it say anything about the environment?”
There’s nothing in the Constitution about the environment for the same reason there’s nothing in there about outer space. (Cue Theremin) The authors simply could not peer into the future, and foresee developments 150-200 years down the line.
Where in the Constitution does the US Gov’t. get the authority for NASA? Because outer space is not specifically mentioned in any way, shape, or form in the Constitution, does it follow we should disband NASA, and let the states try to have their own space agencies?
For those issues that were beyond the ken of the authors of the US Constitution, I suggest we can look at the Preamble to gauge their intentions; that is, at the spirit, rather than the letter of the law, where this latter does not exist, because the Founder Fathers had no knowledge of these specific issues, and obviously no way to make provision for them in the Constitution.
Although the preamble is not a source of power for any department of the Federal Government, the Supreme Court has often referred to it as evidence of the origin, scope, and purpose of the Constitution

David A
Reply to  John Whitman
September 12, 2015 4:12 am

…and that interpretation allows any and every authority to be a federal mandate from unelected Fed government employees. And so we have the basis of our nation (freedom from group power) destroyed by overreaching national government, our economy crippled by debt and hog tied by federal regulations, and a rapidly failing middle class.

Reply to  John Whitman
September 12, 2015 7:20 am

Where in the Constitution does the US Gov’t. get the authority for NASA? Because outer space is not specifically mentioned in any way, shape, or form in the Constitution, does it follow we should disband NASA, and let the states try to have their own space agencies?

The Constitution gives no authority to the federal government for the establishment of NASA or the expense borne by us taxpayers. None. It is not a legal expansion of federal government power/authority. AND I WORK IN THE AEROSPACE INDUSTRY (don’t get me started on how dysfunctional and wasteful NASA is presently).
If people in this country want NASA, then let’s have that national conversation, and CHANGE THE CONSTITUTION SO IT IS LEGAL to do so. There is a method for doing this defined within the Constitution specifically for the purpose of dealing with issues that the founding fathers couldn’t have foreseen. Look at Article V. They anticipated that changes would be needed but wanted these changes done in a measured way. There have been 27 amendments to date (about one per decade on average). This process allows a real discussion about expanding the reach of the federal government when needed and if followed would have put the brakes on what has now become a $3.5 Trillion annual enterprise, that has taken so much liberty from the citizens and so much of our wealth diverted to uses that are wasteful, inefficient and downright obscene (ofttimes handing money to the wealthy and well-connected; Solyndra anyone?).
The EPA should have been a collection of state offices that work together to preserve the environment collectively. I believe local/state solutions are always better than federal government solutions (except in the 18 areas spelled out in the Constitution).

Reply to  markstoval
September 12, 2015 8:17 am

Steve P on September 11, 2015 at 7:27 pm
If the EPA was not the solution, what was?
I think Von Mises has indulged in a flight of logic here, with a kind of equivocation. Man’s moral weakness may make a fool piss in the fountain…and the rest of us should just stand by, and let him do it? No, I submit it takes moral strength to promulgate laws and ordinances to protect the common man from the fool, the thief, the drunk driver, the murderer.
In this world, there are competent people, and there are incompetent people*. It is the responsibility of the former to protect us from the latter. When important positions are filled with competent and honest people, we have a much better chance of a successful outcome. irrespective of the field of endeavor.
It may be an imperfect system, but it’s all we have, beyond vigilantism, or chaos.
*“Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere”
–G.K. Chesterton
Steve P,
Ludwig Von Mises touched the fundamental point. The government did not initiate or create or achieve what was already within the free culture, therefore it wasn’t the solution. That applies to the historical record of EPA self serving mythology that it saved us.
In that regard here is another appropriate Ludwig Von Mises quote,

“The characteristic feature of a free society is that it can function in spite of the fact that its members disagree in many judgments of value. Freedom really means the freedom to make mistakes.”

When a mistake is made in free society then free society self corrects. The intervention of non-freedom coercive instruments (such as the EPA) is restrictive to free society solutions.

Reply to  John Whitman
September 12, 2015 4:26 pm

Steve P.
Corporations cannot make campaign contributions, you blew your credibility with that comment.

Steve P
Reply to  John Whitman
September 13, 2015 11:53 am

September 12, 2015 at 4:26 pm
Steve P.
Corporations cannot make campaign contributions, you blew your credibility with that comment.

What was blown – and whose it was – Is not what you assert,
“The landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission, opened the floodgates for unlimited campaign contributions by corporations. Those corporations often funnel the money through intermediaries, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or other groups many experts say are formed explicitly to hide the source of the donations…”
Corporate campaign contribution issue falls off SEC regulatory agenda
Requirement that companies disclose political spending had outpouring of support but will likely not be considered
December 6, 2013 5:36PM ET
by Naureen Khan
Super PACs can raise unlimited funds from individual and corporate donors
“Two months later, a unanimous nine-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided SpeechNow, which relied on Citizens United to hold that Congress could not limit donations to organizations that only made independent expenditures, that is, expenditures that were “uncoordinated” with a candidate’s campaign. These decisions led to the rise of “independent-expenditure only” PACs, commonly known as “Super PACs.” Super PACs, under Citizens United and SpeechNow, can raise unlimited funds from individual and corporate donors and use those funds for electioneering advertisements, provided that the Super PAC does not coordinate with a candidate.”
Green, Mark (2002). Selling Out, How Big Corporate Money Buys Elections, Rams Through Legislation, and Betrays Our Democracy. Regan Books (Harper Collins). ISBN 0-06-052392-1.
Whatever the case with the letter of the law, the rich and powerful can always find ways to skirt that law, in the first place, or to get it changed to their benefit, in the second. Beyond that, the large corporations and their wealthy cronies are commonly surrounded with ranks of lawyers, and “legal teams” who will attempt to torture the letter of the law, or pervert its purpose, with various legal maneuvers, procedural arguments, and gymnastics, which virtually always guarantee success for the big guy, and business as usual in the USA. And nice work for the lawyers.
The common man, not so much.
Curiously, with the concept of “Corporate Personhood,” corporations may now claim to be a common man too, so there you are. Those corporate person thingies can also set up shop in foreign lands, where the tax rates may be more conducive to good business.
What better way to get big government off your back, than to bank your dough out of Uncle Sam’s reach!?

September 11, 2015 11:53 am

Did Gina ever drink the river water like the Gov.?

September 11, 2015 12:01 pm

How many EPA employees and contractors does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer: Run!

September 11, 2015 12:06 pm

“We’re with the government, and we’re here to help you.”

John F. Hultquist
September 11, 2015 12:11 pm

Lots more old mines in them there hills!
I wonder what the next plan will be?
Here is a link to the letter by Dave Taylor from the Silverton Standard about the EPA:

September 11, 2015 12:14 pm

I think there is a bit of over-reaction here.
These things happen, and sometimes the guy on the ground at the time is just not up to the job that he had no idea that he would have to do in the first place.
For example, who could have forseen that, luckily over a weekend, the water would have broken into Longannet coal pit and flooded it so badly that it was closed down for ever? It happened and DG no-one was killed.
In other words, s**t happens, deal with it the best you can and go forward from there.
But if those who are tasked with dealing with it don’t do their best, that is a horse of a different colour.

Reply to  Oldseadog
September 11, 2015 12:19 pm

Well, no one has ever dug into the side of a polluted lake before, so there was absolutely no way to know what might happen….

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  Oldseadog
September 11, 2015 12:35 pm

These things don’t happen from time to time unless some idiot makes them happen
There’s a very straightforward way to do this and it involves drilling, at an angle, a 4 or 6 inch pipe can be inserted and you can obtain information about volume, content, pressure. Only then can you create a reasonable plan to remedy the site.
This was a case of an EPA employee, with no knowledge, grabbing a couple local dirt-movers to “open the thing up.” They were either grossly negligent or expecting a problem that would justify some sort of power grab.

Keith Willshaw
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
September 12, 2015 6:24 am

Precisely and with such a pipe you can pump out the water at a controlled rate and pass it to a treatment plant before discharge. What happened in this case is what is categorized in the UK as a mine water outbreak. These are considered high risk events.
A good example here was the Force Crag lead mine in Cumbria where the site owners (National Trust) carried out a non intrusive survey using seismic techniques to quantify the hazard.
They were alerted to the hazard by the fact that the low rate leakage from the mine had ceased. They were right to be concerned. A head of 20 metres of mine water had built up behind a collapsed adit in the lowest level of the workings that prompted fears of a sudden slope collapse which could release large amounts of polluted water.
The remedial work consisted of initially drilling a bore hole into the top of the flooded section and pumping out water to reduce the head. A concrete plug was then put in place which had drain holes that release water at a controlled rate to a small water treatment plant. The total cost of this operation was around £200,000 and was carried out by a company called Soil Engineering who are specialists in this field.

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
September 12, 2015 7:18 am

Agreed MarkfthM,
When something like this is so important for so many various reasons,
‘You don’t send wrapped mummies with knives to a fight against iron mammoths with guns and bullets.

Reply to  Oldseadog
September 11, 2015 12:54 pm

I would agree, but they were enacting a plan that was critically flawed at best, and there were numerous documented rebukes from several people that it would end in disaster.
The EPA has two things to determine fault, but the most important are “could it have been prevented with better design” and “could it have been prevented with better execution”. At least the first is certainly “Yes”.
By their own criteria, they are guilty.

Reply to  benofhouston
September 11, 2015 5:23 pm

Yes, and they clearly did not perform a PHA per their own guidelines. A PHA is something you do before you take an action that might be hazardous – like busting open an old mine that had a small leak.

Reply to  Oldseadog
September 11, 2015 2:46 pm

That particular horse is RED.

Dave Wendt
September 11, 2015 12:19 pm

The EPA was totally clueless about what they were dealing with. Shortly after the release I saw an interview with the owner of the Gold King mine. He indicated that when his mine was closed it was relatively dry, but then the EPA sealed up nearby mines with water problems and the backed up flow filled his mine. When the EPA was moving toward opening the mine they were warned by many of the potential disaster, including a column in a local newspaper that predicted almost exactly what would and did occur. Of course, like good Obamacrats the EPA knew much more than the rest of the world and so they proceeded to destroy a beautiful river.

Steve P
Reply to  Becky Hunter (@TexCIS)
September 11, 2015 3:06 pm

“George F. Will
U.S. journalist, 1941-
The American condition can be summed up in three sentences we’re hearing these days:
“Your check is in the mail.”
“I will respect you as much in the morning.”
“I am from the government and I am here to help you.”
Quoted in Frederick (Md.) News, 19 July 1976
6 May 1976, Arcadia Tribune, pg. D4, col. 4:
Rep. John Rousselot calls the following the three greatest fabrications of all time:
— My check is in the mail.
— I gave at the office.
— I’m from the federal government. I’m here to help you.”
BARRY POPIK is a contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary, Dictionary of American Regional English, Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Yale Book of Quotations and Dictionary of Modern Proverbs.
There were many variations on this gag riddle during the 70s- What are the three biggest lies? I remember some of the saucier versions.

gary turner
September 11, 2015 12:23 pm

I wonder what was said during those long *bleeps*.

TC in the OC
Reply to  gary turner
September 11, 2015 1:12 pm

I think those long bleeps are something akin to the missing parts on Nixon’s tapes. Don’t think it was bleeps because of foul language.

Reply to  TC in the OC
September 11, 2015 1:21 pm

Yeah, that’s exactly what I wondered. I guess it could even have been mentioning names or who said to do this or that? (No doubt the ‘original’ has long since been ‘lost’)

Steve R
Reply to  TC in the OC
September 11, 2015 9:32 pm

I suspect those bleeps included dialog which would suggest that the contractors had successfully completed their contract.

September 11, 2015 12:25 pm

If this work was being done by a company independent of the government, an environmental impact study would would have been required. I have heard nothing about whether one was done for/by the EPA. Had one been completed, the result would have been foreseen.

Matt Bergin
Reply to  Dave
September 11, 2015 12:39 pm

The EPA does the environmental studies, so yes they did, and the result went according to their plan.

Reply to  Matt Bergin
September 11, 2015 6:40 pm

Really, they did one? Do you have a reference?

Reply to  Dave
September 11, 2015 3:04 pm

Also needed a spill plan. The EPA is big on oil companies having SPCC plans for such eventualities. Here, they violated every precept of spill prevention and containment. This is one of the finest examples of governmental incompetence ever. Big government ensures that there are no little blunders.
The next round of lies and excuses should start any day now. George W. Bush will be blamed. And capitalism. And the founding fathers. Everybody but you-know-whom.

Bruce Cobb
September 11, 2015 12:28 pm

Hi! We’re here from the government, and are here to help.

Steve P
September 11, 2015 12:32 pm

“Dave Taylor, the retired geologist who predicted the EPA project that caused the 3 million gallon toxic spill into the Animas River in Colorado would fail, tells Breitbart News, “I didn’t really know they were going to fool with the Gold King mine in addition to the Red and Bonita mine.”
Note that Taylor says he really didn’t predict the disaster.

Matt Bergin
Reply to  Steve P
September 11, 2015 12:42 pm

Steve that’s not how I read it. The way I read it he said correctly that there would be a disaster but he he had the wrong mine in mind. 🙂

Reply to  Steve P
September 11, 2015 5:29 pm

Steve, He did not predict that particular particular outcome. Most likely because he underestimated the amount of stupidity that the EPA could deploy.

Steve P
Reply to  isthatright
September 11, 2015 5:44 pm

Agreed. I really want to see the entire paper trail, including all the blacked-out parts of what’s been released so far.
We desperately need accountability and justice in these United States of America.

David, UK
September 11, 2015 12:43 pm


September 11, 2015 12:47 pm

Check the contract. Was it to de-water the mine and clear the tunnel? If so, they did a great job.

September 11, 2015 12:49 pm

“complete with a WTF moment”
You are way too kind.
Regarding the EPA and this situation,
the “WTF” lasts waaaaaay longer than a moment.

Russ in Houston
September 11, 2015 12:50 pm

the flow in the video at the beginning looks like about 100cfs. I would only take a little over an hour to release 3 million gallons (that was the reported amount of the spill I believe) at that rate. However, about half way through the video it looks like the flow has increased dramatically. Does anyone know how long the flow continued in that manner.

Reply to  Russ in Houston
September 11, 2015 6:21 pm

You think that the trickle at the beginning is over 800 gallons per second?
That would be 48000 gallons per minute.
That would be like five decent sized backyard swimming pools in a minute.
No chance was it that much at first.
Even at the point that the guy was asking what should they do now, it appeared to be about the output of a 10 HP irrigation pump, possibly a little more. Which is about 500 GPM.
Thank about it…100 cubic feet per second passing out of a five foot wide opening would need to be twenty feet high and traveling at 1 foot per second, or about 0.7 mph. If it was moving at the speed of a decent run, say seven mph, or a mile in under 9 minutes, it would still need to be two feet high and five feet wide to equal 100 cfm.

Paul Westhaver
September 11, 2015 12:55 pm


September 11, 2015 1:32 pm

Put me on that excavator and I will stop or at least dramatically slow the discharge. This was no explosive discharge from a huge pressure head. It was gradual erosion of the dam. The dam material in evidence could not have held a pressure head in the first place.None of the flows shown were any danger to the equipment there. They could have used the blade to create a secondary containment berm even as the excavator slowed the flow. Candy asses, the lot.

The Original Mike M
Reply to  gymnosperm
September 11, 2015 1:49 pm

Initially yes. If they had had some dynamite maybe they could have blown the hole to collapse the opening and then had a lot more time to bring heavier equipment to shore up any remaining seepage.

Reply to  The Original Mike M
September 11, 2015 1:56 pm

All the dramatic torrent footage shown later on is after it became a waterfall past the road.

Dems B. Dcvrs
Reply to  gymnosperm
September 11, 2015 3:49 pm

When they first saw the water flow, they had a chance, and should have tried as you suggest.
The bulldozer could have pushed a pile of dirt end to the opening, parked there, and operator abandon bulldozer.
The track backhoes could then have started pulling front edges down to quickly build up dam; eventually forming a dirt wall plug.
If plugging failed, worst case was loss of one bulldozer.

Reply to  Dems B. Dcvrs
September 11, 2015 6:39 pm

There was no head of pressure. Any dam at all would have contained it at first. But the floor of the opening was just dirt and clay, which began to erode, and expand the opening downward. At that point it was too late, but at first, it was easily stopped.
These people had no idea what they were doing, no idea what the dangers were, no idea what they were looking at, even after it started.
Complete incompetence.

Reply to  Dems B. Dcvrs
September 11, 2015 8:46 pm

Not even. The low pressure flow out of the mine could not even budge that blade. They tried to drive the truck across the flow, got it stuck, and it didn’t even wash the piss ant truck away. Just flooded the floor of the cab for the WTF moment.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Dems B. Dcvrs
September 12, 2015 3:55 pm

Menicholas, there would have been a pressure head, but it was within the mine tunnel complex. The trickle at the start simply shows the size of the orifice the water was passing through. As the water flow increased it pulled soil and debris out of the flow passage.
To be honest, once the dam wall is breached, nothing will stop it. It had to be contained from within and from the top down.
This video clearly show absolutely no safety, no containment, no failure plan, no escape route, no consideration of even the slightest.

Reply to  gymnosperm
September 11, 2015 6:25 pm

I completely agree gymnosperm.
I cannot figure out why that backhoe was not dropping dirt back into the opening.
I wonder how long it was before they understood what would transpire if they watched and let it continue?
This is like putting a match to your living room sofa, then standing in the doorway watching as first the cushion, then the couch, and then the whole room gradually caught on fire.

Reply to  Menicholas
September 11, 2015 9:01 pm

To be fair, they didn’t know if the initial leak was a puddle or the lake it turned out to be. If they had a clue, they would have realized that if it was high pressure head situation the initial leak would have been shooting out way past the road.The mine was dug at a very low uphill angle for a very long way into the hill. There was a lot of water at very low pressure. There was no need to evacuate the excavator. It should have been pushing what it had dug back into the mine.
Amazing how this becomes a metaphor for the whole climate situation.Carbon dioxide is the water in that mine. There is a lot of it at very low pressure…

The Original Mike M
September 11, 2015 1:44 pm

When you appoint rabid lying progressives to run our government you end up with the honest hard working people leaving and a bunch of rump swabs rushing in to fill the void.

Reply to  The Original Mike M
September 11, 2015 2:26 pm

…and finger pointers with forked tongues back at headquarters.

Reply to  The Original Mike M
September 11, 2015 3:06 pm

Low information voters => low competence bureaucrats.

The Original Mike M
September 11, 2015 2:00 pm

I suspect that the long bleaped out parts might be the equipment operator’s reply to the EPA guy who asked about going back to plug the hole. Probably along the lines of what he should do with his own anatomy or something.

September 11, 2015 2:03 pm

Why wouldn’t they pump or syphon the stuff out into a containment field of some kind?
Just going in and removing blocks? Nah this isn’t stupidity, this is criminal negligence.
At a certain point ignorance and stupidity become actionable. All of the EPA Bureaucrats should be in prison right now serving a life sentence under the RICO statutes.

September 11, 2015 2:05 pm

On everything I’ve read or seen about this I see people defending the EPA and casting blame on people that are 100 years gone.
To those people: please READ UP on what you’re seeing.
The mines were under control. The seepage was at an acceptable level. The EPA themselves accelerated the problem in order to fit a political agenda. If they had kept their hands off of this the situation could have remained stable for hundreds of years.
Make sure your outrage is aimed in the proper direction.

Reply to  CodeTech
September 11, 2015 4:00 pm

Asking the average American to blame government is like asking the Pope to blame God. Just does not happen often.

Steve P
Reply to  markstoval
September 11, 2015 6:21 pm

Remember this?
“I love my country, but I fear my government”
“”I love my country, but (I) fear my government” is a saying on bumper stickers and T-shirts that dates to at least April 1987. It is not known who originated the saying. ”

The Original Mike M
Reply to  markstoval
September 13, 2015 6:07 am

Steve P – “… I fear my government”
And so few people these days have the slightest inkling that our Liberty was founded on the opposite principle, that government is supposed to fear us.

Steve R
Reply to  CodeTech
September 11, 2015 9:45 pm

3 million gallons of toxic wastewater at an elevation of 10,000ft stored behind a loose earthen berm is never a “stable” situation.

Reply to  Steve R
September 13, 2015 4:28 am

As I understand it, there wasn’t 3 million gallons until the EPA plugged all the drains.

September 11, 2015 2:05 pm

Any other industry does something like this and the EPA would have been on top of them with a herd of environmentalists like flies on ****. EPA does it and all they can do is pretend its not that bad and it will all just go away down the river.
The guy opening the pickup was priceless. I hope it was his and not the governments. Shouldn’t be polluting our atmosphere with CO2 from a big pickup while working for the govt. Should have been driving a Prius.

Reply to  Dobes
September 11, 2015 2:54 pm


Dems B. Dcvrs
Reply to  Dobes
September 11, 2015 3:42 pm

“Shouldn’t be polluting our atmosphere with CO2 from a big pickup…”
Great point. If EPA truly believes that CO2 is a dangerous pollutant, then EPA should walk their talk. All the heavy Equipment should have been “battery powered” and recharged overnight from Solar Cells (yeah I know, no sun at night, but we are talking EPA here…).

September 11, 2015 2:24 pm

It was all just fluke atmospheric conditions that made the water look that color. Move along.

Steve P
September 11, 2015 2:27 pm

EPA knew of ‘blowout’ risk for tainted water at gold mine
“WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials knew of the potential for a catastrophic “blowout” of poisonous wastewater from an inactive gold mine, yet appeared to have only a cursory plan to deal with such an event when a government cleanup team triggered a 3-million-gallon spill, according to internal documents released by the Environmental Protection Agency”
A May 2015 action plan produced by an EPA contractor, Environmental Restoration LLC, also noted the potential for a blowout.
The May plan also called for a pond that would be used to manage the mine water and prevent contaminants from entering waterways. That pond was not completed.”

Reply to  Steve P
September 11, 2015 9:19 pm

What man-made poisons were in the water? – or were the “poisons” just naturally occurring heavy metals that have been eroding off the mountains sides for eons?

Steve R
Reply to  noaaprogrammer
September 11, 2015 9:51 pm

Just heavy metals in acidic solution. It was all going to end up in the river one way or another, either all at once, or gradually. As much as I’d enjoy seeing Epa disbanded, you have to admit, the problem certainty was solved.

Reply to  noaaprogrammer
September 12, 2015 8:56 am

It was not going to end up in the river anyway. Not in anyone’s lifetime.
Eventually the entire mountain will erode away, so in that time scale it will end up in the river.
If it trickled out over a long period of time, a lot of the metals would have adsorbed onto soil and clay particles, some would have soaked into the ground, reacted with other minerals, and stayed there, and some may have precipitated out of solution. In fact, much of what wound up in the river was almost surely sediment which became loosened and entrained into the water flow due to the speed of the torrent.
They made it far worse than simply leaving it alone might have ever done.
Do not forget, all of the metals were in that mountain since it was uplifted. Digging a mine, and then abandoning it make what is already there, more prone to dissolution and becoming waterborne.

Steven F
Reply to  noaaprogrammer
September 12, 2015 10:40 am

The mine had sulfide ores in it. Ground water flowing though sulfide ores converts the sulfur to sulfuric acid. The acid then leaches metals out of the rock. Once the acid exits the mine the sulfur dioxide is released in the air and the acidic level of the water drops.As the acidity drops the metals precipitate out of the water and settle to the bottom of the stream or pool. the EPA is currently letting the water out gas and minerals settle in a pool before releasing the water into the river.
It is a natural process that normally happens very slowly and the water flows are normally very small. However when you dig a hole in the mountain and allow it to fill with water the process can accelerate dramatically producing massive amounts of extremely acid water with tons of heavy metals in solution.

September 11, 2015 2:28 pm

Someone get HAL or one o the many climate supercomputers to fill in the missing words with lip reading technology.

Lil Fella of Oz
September 11, 2015 2:33 pm

We are in control we are the EPA.

September 11, 2015 2:36 pm

I am sure somebody asked this,
but who protects the environment from the EPA?

Reply to  JohnWho
September 11, 2015 3:13 pm

Perfect question.
The follow up is, WHO will be held accountable for this at the EPA?

Dems B. Dcvrs
Reply to  isthatright
September 11, 2015 3:38 pm

“WHO will be held accountable for this at the EPA?”
Seriously? You got to be kidding!
EPA and accountability – ROFLMAO
EPA reports to No One, not even Congress – as rubber stamped by Liberal Activist Judges.
There is no accountability when EPA was allowed to remain intact, after declaring CO2 a Dangerous Pollutant.

Reply to  isthatright
September 11, 2015 5:32 pm

I meant that as a rhetorical question.

Reply to  isthatright
September 11, 2015 9:27 pm

The EPA is the vicar of Gaia on Earth. -i.e. They have elevated the inanimate Earth to a sentient entity that they worship; and force the non-compliant ‘agaiaists’ into their religious system.

September 11, 2015 2:41 pm

“What do we do now?”
No worries, you obviously need to tweak your computer modelling to fix this one.

September 11, 2015 3:11 pm

I want to see the PHA (Process Hazards Analysis) that the EPA performed before they began this operation. This includes when the EPA plugged up the first mine and then before the EPA had this mine opened up so that they could spill 3 million+ gallons of toxic waste.
If the EPA does not know how to do this, I could have done it for them. I’ve done a number of PHAs and we never had a problem with the operation. PHAs work.
Oh, wait! The EPA has a PHA “how to” on their own website:
Here is what the EPA states must be done from Page 1 of their own Chemical Emergency Prevention & Planning document :
“The process hazard analysis (PHA) is a key requirement of EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP) rule, 40 CFR Part 68, and OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) standard, 29 CFR 1910.119. These regulations require that PHA address toxic, fire, and explosion hazards resulting from specific chemicals and their possible impacts on employees, the public and the environment.
PHA is a thorough, orderly, and systematic approach for identifying, evaluating, and controlling the hazards of processes involving highly hazardous chemicals. The facility shall perform a process hazard analysis on all processes covered by the EPA RMP rule or OSHA PSM standard.
The process hazard analysis methodology selected must be appropriate to the complexity of the process and must identify, evaluate, and control the hazards involved in the process.
First, the facility must determine and document the priority order for conducting process hazard analyses based on a rationale that includes such considerations as the extent of the process hazards, the number of potentially affected employees, the age of the process, and the operating history of the process. The process hazard analyses should be conducted as soon as possible.
The facility shall use one or more of the following methods, as appropriate, to determine and evaluate the hazards of the process being analyzed:
1 What-if,
2 Checklist,
3 What-if/checklist,
4 Hazard and operability study (HAZOP), 􀀀 ¾􀀀 Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), 􀀀 ¾􀀀 Fault tree analysis, or
5 An appropriate equivalent methodology.”
There is much more in this EPA document.
Had the EPA followed their own guidelines, there would have been plans in place to asses the hazards involved and mitigate any problems which arose. The EPA did NOT follow their own guidelines.
Please no talking points about the contractor should have done this. PHAs are always carried out with the project owner, which in this case was the EPA.

Dems B. Dcvrs
September 11, 2015 3:30 pm

I really don’t see what the big deal is.
The E.P.A. will pay for entire cost of cleanup.
It’s not like we Taxpayers will be out any money…

Gunga Din
September 11, 2015 3:33 pm

September 11, 2015 at 3:11 pm
I want to see the PHA (Process Hazards Analysis) that the EPA performed before they began this operation. …………
……..There is much more in this EPA document.
Had the EPA followed their own guidelines, there would have been plans in place to asses the hazards involved and mitigate any problems which arose. The EPA did NOT follow their own guidelines.
Please no talking points about the contractor should have done this. PHAs are always carried out with the project owner, which in this case was the EPA.

I know if I didn’t follow the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) the EPA and OSHA calls for my AWBIAS (Ass Would Be In A Sling) if something went wrong.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Gunga Din
September 11, 2015 3:37 pm

Messed up the blockquote. The latter “blockquote”,
“I know if I didn’t follow the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) the EPA and OSHA calls for my AWBIAS (Ass Would Be In A Sling) if something went wrong.”
is my comment.
(I think it’s time for my nap! 😎

Reply to  Gunga Din
September 11, 2015 5:34 pm

You are correct either way

Gary Pearse
September 11, 2015 3:36 pm

Was the purpose of this breaching explained? It should never have been just plugged in the first place, but I guess it was a long time ago. If it was leaking at an average of 100gallons a minute before plugging, it will just resume at 100 gallons a minute now as I suspect it is if these clowns didn’t replug it again. Simple lime treatment of the water in situe would have precipitated a lot of the heavy metals out. This could be done in a catchment pond, then line the drain from the pond with crushed limestone. You’d need enough to neutralize the acid water before precipitation is significant. If there is a lot of copper, you can put (tin cans, etc) into one pond the iron will be replaced with copper which you can recover and then follow with a liming pond. I suppose they had some such idea to deal with the seep (anyone see pictures with bags of lime in them?).
Why didn’t they hire a mining engineering company to do the job.

Leo Norekens
September 11, 2015 3:41 pm

For some reason this reminds me of a refugee invasion.

September 11, 2015 3:56 pm

Different views on the situation:
It seems you eed to clear up the mess you make when you extract minerals – obvious really. But of course it means some of your profits. Or of course you just leave it for someone else to fix as seems to be the problem here.

Steve P
Reply to  sergeiMK
September 11, 2015 5:58 pm

Good links, thanks for posting. Even without mining, you get Red Mountains, and dead streams.
“But the early settlers also were struck by the reddish orange color (like the Animas River after the “spill”) of some of the mountains. They were also struck by the same orange in some streams during times of high runoff, streams that were lifeless even then. Indeed, an observer in 1874 noted that Cement Creek was “so strongly impregnated with mineral ingredients as to be quite unfit for drinking.”

Tom J
September 11, 2015 3:59 pm

This is a quote from EPA Administrator Armendariz:
“I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement, and I think it was probably a little crude and maybe not appropriate for the meeting, but I’ll go ahead and tell you what I said:
“It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them.
“Then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”
“It’s a deterrent factor,” Armendariz said, explaining that the EPA is following the Romans’ philosophy for subjugating conquered villages.
Armendariz wasn’t involved in this teensy little disaster. But it seems like the general personality type was.

Reply to  Tom J
September 12, 2015 11:14 am

And I thought we were against bullies in this country. When it comes to government agencies I guess not.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Alx
September 12, 2015 4:06 pm

Look at the police force, do you see any bullies in there? it’s like they went through the school records just to find them. The job attracts them. Which I think is what happens with environmental enforcement jobs, it attracts those narcissistic personality types.

lyn roberts
September 11, 2015 4:04 pm

This reminds me of the time I was employed by a Govt Dept, in accounts payable. Found a taxi voucher for, $250.00. That then led to multiple vouchers when I investigated, all cashed by the same driver, and where was his regular rank, outside the casino of course, I rang the taxi co and asked if I could contact taxi driver, 999, I wanted to thank him personally for a service done, and where could I find him, quiet happy to tell me. Brought it to the manager of dept attention, who was fired 10 days later. Too many times the whistle blower being at fault rather than the real crim. This smacks of the same, get rid of all the troublemakers, more Idiots in charge of govt depts. Oh by the way my manager at the time now holds an even more senior position.

Reply to  lyn roberts
September 11, 2015 7:32 pm

Not clear who was fired as the whistle blower – you, the manager, or the driver? Please clarify…You said the manager is still employed with a senior position. Weren’t you the whistle blower?

Sam The First
Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
September 12, 2015 5:52 am

Managers at fault are usually moved sideways (after pocketing a huge sum in compensation for lost earnings), if they work in the public sector that is…
Typically here in the the UK, esp in the NHS or Social Services,the manager is ‘sacked’ then re-employed in a similar post in another area – usually at an increased salary and with no loss of pension benefits.

Reply to  lyn roberts
September 12, 2015 8:59 am

Lyn, your story reminds me of the time I was picking coffee beans in Guatemala…oh, wait…uh. Never mind.
That was not me, it was Keyser Soze.

September 11, 2015 4:14 pm

It is yellow, it comes from the bowels of the Earth, It is natural.
It is Gaia’s pee.

September 11, 2015 4:35 pm

Don’t fool with Mother Nature, nor gravity (assuming there is such a thing).
And, never, ever, fix something that ain’t broken.

Tom J
September 11, 2015 4:41 pm

I guess Michelle won’t be taking the two girls skiing in Colorado this winter.

Craig W
September 11, 2015 5:34 pm

Now that’s an anthropogenic disaster … thanks EPA!

September 11, 2015 5:54 pm

Skywolfe says, “Impeach McCarthy.”
Excerpt from link:
• On February 4, 2015, Administrator McCarthy appeared at a joint hearing before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and made false statements in violation of section 1001 of title 18, United States Code. When answering questions about Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulations, McCarthy stated, “Again, we are not expanding jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, we are not eliminating any exemptions or exclusions in this proposal, we are in fact narrowing the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act consistent with sound science and the law.” However, information on the EPA’s website states, “a very small number of additional waters — 3.2 percent — will be found jurisdictional and an EPA video released with the final rule claims that “until now 60% over our streams and millions of acres of wetlands all across the country were not protected.”

Reply to  Zeke
September 11, 2015 5:59 pm

I see, so now the EPA will protect the other 60% of our streams and wetlands exactly like they protected the Animas river.

Reply to  isthatright
September 11, 2015 6:30 pm

Here is a quick primer on the the EPA’s Waters of the United States:
1. Congress intended the federal government to have authority over “navigable” waters.
2. “WOTUS” redefines “waters of the United States” to remove the qualification that they be “navigable,” and in effect brings most every occasionally damp ditch and puddle in the nation under EPA control.
3. Twenty-nine states filed lawsuits asking the federal judiciary to get EPA back under control.
4. At the eleventh hour a federal court ordered an injunction blocking EPA’s onerous water rule.
5. EPA bureaucrats declared they will only halt the rule in the 13 states that requested the injunction.
6. Relief will only extend to Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
As Ron Arnold reports at
“Each state lawsuit asked a federal judge to declare the WOTUS rule illegal and issue an injunction to prevent the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, co-administrator of the rule, from enforcing it. Each state also asked the judge to order both agencies to draft a new rule that complies with the law and honors state authority.”
REF: all writing by Craig Rucker, CFACT

“Under our Constitution, Congress makes the law. When federal bureaucrats forget that, it is up the courts to restrain them.”

Janice the Elder
September 11, 2015 6:14 pm

So, there is a perfectly good earthen dam, and they bring in some big equipment to dig a trench into it. I guess there wasn’t enough of a seep to make a good picture. Most people, if they were going to do this, would at least have a back-up plan, like having a big truckload of sandbags ready to dump into the trench they just made. But no, they were goal-oriented towards getting some good pictures, and then a small leak starts, and they just stand around looking at it. And then it gets worse, and they realize that they can’t cover up the fact that they did this.
If it wasn’t the EPA, I’d almost feel sorry for them. Just wanted some good pictures to show how bad it was. At least they got their pictures, eh?

September 11, 2015 6:34 pm

It is most regrettable that one of the states asking for an INJUNCTION against the EPA’s new Waters of the United States rules
had such an accident happen to their supplemental irrigation water.

Power Grab
Reply to  Zeke
September 11, 2015 10:41 pm

In other words, “Nice river you’ve got there. It’d be too bad if something happened to it.”

September 11, 2015 6:55 pm

“what do we do now ????”
1) Prepare a backup plan, whoops way to late for that….
2) Think quickly and try to minimize the damage, whoops we are too incompetent to pull that off…
3) Touch up our resumes: “Reduced concentration of toxic wastes by dispersing them over a wider geographic area”….
4) Change your name and go into a witness protection plan, yeah, that’s the ticket….
What a totally predictable outcome: stop up some relatively clean free flowing water until it dissolves all the “bad” stuff and breaks free because of the totally unexpected hydrostatic pressure and transports all the “bad” stuff downstream at high velocity. Who knew about hydrostatic pressure ????
Cheers, KevinK

Robert Ballard
September 11, 2015 7:20 pm

They should have called the President. He can negotiate with the worlds leaders to end dangerous spills. He will be meeting in Paris with other powerful world leaders to decide the correct global climate this fall. All he needs is for everyone to send him five bucks.
Organizing for Action
Robert —
Climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time. The science is clear, and President Obama has been working his tail off to solve this problem. We have more of a pathway today to solve this problem than we have in years, with clean energy technologies booming, and common-sense limits on carbon pollution from dirty power plants.
So it really steams me to hear that top members of Congress are working to derail progress on this issue. One of them has even had his staff call foreign embassies to tell them that he and his fellow deniers plan to fight the President. If they get their way, America won’t live up to the commitments we’re making to fight climate change.
We’re calling out the deniers trying to undermine real action on climate change. Take a second today to help — chip in $5 or more to fund this work.
It’s one thing to speak out opposing President Obama or his policies, or to use every tactic in the congressional playbook to stall, delay, and gridlock-to-death any attempt at progress.
But going behind the President’s back to undercut negotiations on climate with foreign powers is taking it to another level.
Later this year, countries around the world are going to meet in Paris to hammer out a global agreement that could put us on track to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
International cooperation to tackle climate change may be climate change deniers’ worst nightmare. But we can’t let them get away with trying to derail it.
And we’re the right team for the job — we may not be able to convince the cynics in Congress, but we can sure out-organize them.
Join the fight — chip in today:

Hank Bradley
September 11, 2015 10:22 pm

No doubt dozens of practical folks have already noted this above, but: If the EPA had had ONE competent engineer on that job, he’d have known to determine the surface level of the mine water before releasing a contractor to go digging around the adit portal.
All those lawyers and ‘scientists’ and industry-punishers on staff, and not one with a first-year understanding of hydrostatics. If that’s not criminal negligence by EPA, nothing is.

September 11, 2015 11:38 pm

This whole discussion about blocking the flow with the CAT I think is likely un-realistic. First I will say, “I was not there”, so I do not know first-hand. However, from my experience (geologist by schooling and career) and reading what I can find, it would appear that once the flow started they were doomed.
First the mine portal (i.e. the opening) has been estimated at 10 feet wide and 15 feet high and based on historic mine records (which you can find online) it is likely that the adit leading from the portal sloped upwards and that behind the earthen plug stood a 15 foot high wall of fluid. So in other words the 15 foot tall portal was full from top to bottom and it is possible and probable that the elevation of the top of the fluid was well above the top elevation of the portal (i.e. the fluid was back-up by the plug).
So, at the very beginning of the video as you see the fluid first starts to escape, this is the very top of the portal (i.e. the roof). I don’t know the timing but my guess is that within less than a minute the fluid flowing from the top of the portal over the top of the earthen plug eroded down ~15 feet through the extent of the plug to the floor of the portal, disgorging the entirety of the portal. At this point there is no hope.
Water has a viscosity and so if you could have walked into the adit as the flow was occurring you would find that the distance between the top of the flow and the top of the adit would be getting smaller the farther you entered (i.e. a wedge of fluid).
In the video you see what appears to be a few feet of fluid issuing from the portal. However this does not reveal the extent of the upward sloping wedge of fluid within the adit. So surly if the CAT plowed into the portal in an attempted to stem the flow, the blade would have been over-run within seconds, having no significant effect.
This is basically subsurface mining 101.
Another way of looking at this, is as if this was an active subsurface mine, in which case men would have died ! ! !
It is not uncommon in current subsurface mine operations to encounter historic adits, shafts, drifts, etc., particularly in western mining. In many cases because of good historic records these earlier mining activities are expected and planned for. No miner worth his or her salt would blindly drift into a historic mine without considering the consequences. These consequences include in addition to fluids: explosive/poisonous gases, collapses, improperly disposed waste materials and explosives.
The bottom line is that the same procedures that today’s subsurface miner would use during the entry of a historic section of mine (i.e. so as not to kill miners and destroy the mine) should have been use by our EPA.
They did not.

September 11, 2015 11:41 pm

The EPA belongs to the executive branch of our government, and the current executive is the dumbest ass in the history of bi-peds ever to sh*t between two feet.

Steven F
September 12, 2015 2:18 am

I did some digging through news stories . In 2014 the EPA got permission from the current owner, San Juan Corp,to investigate and determine where the water in the mine was coming from. At the time water flow was about 250GPM the work ran behind schedule and the EPA decided to plug the opening in 2014 for the winter. The EPA had a long term plan to install a drain pipe to feed the water to a treatment plant before allowing to the water to enter the river.
When the crews returned this year They just started digging down to the mine and hit water 20 feet above the mine entrance. 8 minutes later the road was washed out It happened to fast for any attempt to plug the leak.
The king gold mine didn’t always have water issues. The mine was first opened in about 1880 and then closed in about 1922. Then later in the 90’s it was reopened. However the new owners went bankrupt and the mine was repossessed . At the time water flow out of the mine was 7GPM. However a few years ago another mine Sunnyside received permission to plug a tunnel that was producing excessive amount of water of polluted water. The Sunnyside mine (now closed) is owned by . Kinross Gold, a Canada-based multinational mining giant.Since then the water flow from King Gold mine has been increasing. One week after the spill the water flow out of King Gold mine was 610GPM. It appears San Juan Corp is pointing the finger at Kinross Gold which is denying any responsibility.
I have a feeling this will wind up in court and that sunnyside will need to be drained.

Janice the Elder
Reply to  Steven F
September 12, 2015 6:03 am

If Sunnyside needs to be drained, we already ave an EPA crew with experience, and they can get right on that.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Janice the Elder
September 12, 2015 4:13 pm

My favorite part is that they built the road up to the dig site exactly where the spill will go. Like cutting of a tree branch while standing on the leafy side.

September 12, 2015 3:10 am

Several of the postings above say that the EPA should have drilled a test bore in order to determine the water levels and pressures; as opposed to doing what they did do.
Had this been done, would this test bore not have caused the same outcome we see now?
Ie: the bore hole would have been the route for water to exit, and in so doing would have washed out a continuously growing channel. In other words, the same erosive catastrophe we we observe in this film clip.
Am I right in thinking this?

Gary Pearse
Reply to  William
September 12, 2015 6:08 am

You drill from higher up in the rock and farther into the mine. One could also sample and assay the water. Putting a slurry of lime in would precipitate most of the heavy metals, too. The hundred gallons a minute of long term seepage could also have been been channeled to a pond for liming before passage into the environment and the remaining would be taken care of by dilution along the way.

Keith Willshaw
Reply to  William
September 12, 2015 6:32 am

” Had this been done, would this test bore not have caused the same outcome we see now?”
No Ideally you drill into the flooded are from above but even if that is not possible you can close a valve in the discharge pipe. What happened at Gold King is the equivalent of punching a hole in a earthen dam instead of letting it out through a pipe or a concrete spillway.

Steven F
Reply to  William
September 12, 2015 9:54 am

“Ie: the bore hole would have been the route for water to exit, and in so doing would have washed out a continuously growing channel. In other words, the same erosive catastrophe we we observe in this film clip.
Am I right in thinking this?”
No the bore hole would be a metal or plastic pipe. Water flowing through the pipe would not erode the the surrounding soil that plugged the mine. Adding a valve to the end of the pipe would also allow for control of the water discharge. Many earthen dams (which is what the EPA used to plug the mine) are built with drain lines at the base. In fact they should have installed the pipe before they plugged up the mine.

September 12, 2015 6:35 am

The EPA – Making a crisis out of a drama.

September 12, 2015 6:41 am

Fed up with EPA, LePage retaliates with threat
Citing ‘overreach’ in regulating tribal waters, he contemplates an unprecedented step: yielding the state’s Clean Water Act powers.
A threat by Gov. Paul LePage to give key regulatory powers back to the federal government would likely result in lengthy water permitting delays, an official for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday.
LePage, frustrated with “aggressive regulatory overreach” by the EPA over Maine’s tribal waters, has threatened to relinquish key powers granted to the state under the federal Clean Water Act and return them to the EPA. The threat was outlined in a letter to Maine’s congressional delegation Aug. 31 and repeated by Patricia Aho, the outgoing environmental protection commissioner, in a letter sent the same day to the EPA.
“You cannot understand my frustration and the frustration of the (Department of Environmental Protection) as we continue to try to exercise our delegated authority under the Clean Water Act,” LePage wrote Maine’s delegation. “I am … seriously considering relinquishing some or all of Maine’s delegated authority under this act.”
If carried out, Maine would be the first state to give such powers back to the federal government, surrendering its authority to issue federal permits to factories and wastewater plants, and to monitor and enforce the provisions of the Clean Water Act, the landmark legislation championed by U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie, a former governor of Maine.
The unprecedented action would turn water quality permitting over to the EPA’s New England regional office in Boston, where there is already a backlog. Forty-six states enforce the Clean Water Act themselves, but of the four that do not – Idaho, New Mexico, New Hampshire and Massachusetts – two are in New England, creating ample work for the Boston staff.

September 12, 2015 7:34 am

I don’t suppose anyone has been FIRED for this completely foreseen and predictable disaster?

Reply to  TRM
September 12, 2015 9:31 am

I would be shocked if anyone were fired from a government job for malfeasance or incompetence under the current administration. On the other hand, if you are a whistle blower or you have a disagreement with the administration policies, well THEN you can kiss your career goodbye.

Steve Oregon
September 12, 2015 9:16 am

Nice way to fix a perceived trickle of pollution. Plug it up, wait for a massive back up, unplug it, let er rip and dump it all in the river. A successful purge?
The EPA says it is all over with so what difference does it matter now? 🙂

September 12, 2015 11:21 am

EPA did some good in the days of heavy smog and polluted rivers and, how much they did vs states and private industry I don;t know but the title Environmental.Protection.Agency fit. Today a more appropriate Title may be EDA which stands for Environmentally.Dangerous.Arrogance. Environmental.Dumb.Asses works too.

Bill Parsons
September 12, 2015 12:41 pm

There are still thousands of these mines in Colorado waiting to “blow up”. I suspect this one did because of record late snowfall and spring rains. See also, the “blue state” in graphic
Blame for acid mine leakage of course traces back to miners who dug the mines in the first place, then lit out after they had taken what they could, or when gold and silver prices collapsed, as they have many times over the centuries. They left tailing mounds on hillsides above the headwaters of key watersheds, where they could do the most damage; and “sealing” a mine meant blocking the entrance to keep intruders out – not keeping toxic waters inside. But blaming the ’49-ers’ or their descendants is a pointless exercise unless it is meant to be “instructive” to future mining operatives. The big mines have the engineering wherewithal to prevent these kinds of disasters in the future. Let them use it – not because the EPA told them to do it, but because it is their responsibility. Meanwhile…
Today’s order of business is to rewrite clauses in the EPA’s Clean Water Act. First enacted as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act in 1948, the environmental legislation did what it was supposed to do – force factories to clean up their effluents. It was not meant to address leaking acid mines. But by 1972, new and misguided mandates under the newly-dubbed Clean Water Act (CWA) forced anyone who tried to fix a point source of pollution to take full responsibility for the mess in perpetuity,. In this perversion of the “pottery shop rule”, you don’t have to break something to buy it; merely stepping up to someone else’s problem makes you liable for its cause forevermore. In 1993, for example, the East Bay Municipal Utility District was held liable for reclaiming to pristine condition the leaking Penn Mine at a cost of 10 million dollars merely because they initiating a clean-up of one of their own reservoirs which was being polluted by the leaking mine above them. They were sued by a group of environmentalists and fishermen, and could only extricate themselves by meeting the onerous conditions of the CWA.
Many good Samaritans have expressed willingness to clean up abandoned acid mines: local and state governments, industries dependent on clean water, private citizens, environmental groups, fishermen, and, yes, mining interests, who with their engineers and equipment, are best suited to tackling the job. All of these agencies fear stepping up because the EPA’s Clean Water Act allows them to be held entirely financially responsible for any further spills or leaks in the future. One recent proposal suggests each state maintain its own fund for clean-up and auction off the mine reclamation jobs to mining firms who can promise the best result: the level of purity of water downstream will determine the size of their remuneration.
Whoever the contractors are, they need to be protected under a “safe harbor” amendment to the EPA’s CWA. This will allow consortia of state-controlled businesses and private organizations, clubs, agriculture groups, and all downstream interests, to step up to the problem of abandoned acid mines and mitigate leakage. These “good Samaritans” should suffer no financial liabilities after they have carried out their work to some agreed-upon specification. Fixes will be costly, and that is why most of these mines have been sitting for hundreds of years. They are all leaking metal sulfides to some degree. So the temptation to return to the status quo should be avoided.
The Gold King Mine spill into the Animus suggests that a much more active role is called for by all parties. The EPA needs to get out of the way and let Colorado and other states find a way to get it done.
Cleaning Up Abandoned Hardrock Mines in the West; Prospecting for a Better Future

Bill Parsons
September 12, 2015 12:52 pm

Amazing video!

Reply to  Bill Parsons
September 13, 2015 12:36 pm

Excellent points. In my opinion, the EPA has morphed since its inception, from an organization which cleaned up the environment to one which mostly lines the pockets of trial attorneys by given them convenient targets for lawsuits. I will take this further and ask who benefits from a lawsuit? Since most of these cases (if not all) are handled on a contingency fee basis, the attorneys take 30, 40, 50% or sometimes more of the verdict. The balance of the funds go to the plaintiffs to use as they see fit. Since these are typically environmental NGOs, they use the new funds to lobby the EPA and other governmental agencies to create more rules which allow the NGOs to file more lawsuits to line the pockets of more trial attorneys.
The follow up question is “How does this clean up the environment? The companies which were sued have less money with which to fix things because their insurance rates skyrocket. Furthermore the insurance for other companies policies also go up since the insurance companies rightly fear that they will have to pay out more lawsuit plaintiffs and their attorneys. This increases the costs for the companies’ products or services and we all end up paying for this mess.
Back to the follow up question: “How does this clean up the environment?”

September 12, 2015 6:58 pm

idiots, the EPA would fry a miner who didn’t have coffer dams in place, Colorado DEQ should fine the contractor and EPA

Björn from Sweden
September 13, 2015 12:46 am

WoW! They have all that equipment ready and do nothing…..

September 13, 2015 6:39 am

The river at our cabin on Lake Superior sometimes gets completely plugged by beach sand this time of year (from storms) and the water backs up for a few days into a marsh and water level gradually rises until it overflows over the sand . A trickle over the sand turns into a great torrent of water in about an hour. Then 4 to 5 days of backed up water is released in 45 minutes. It’s quite a sight. A head of one or two feet is all it takes for massive release of water in a short time. It looks exactly like the mine water release video.
Sometimes we dig a little ditch by hand to hurry-up the process. We’ve done this a couple dozen times over the years. The flow can be easily stopped at the beginning … in the first few minutes … but when the water starts flowing hard forget it the sheer momentum of the water washes away any attempt to re-plug it with shovels of sand. I think they could have plugged this right away but they were afraid a big blast of water was about to shoot out.

September 13, 2015 9:53 am

But … but …… but ……… what about the Snail Darters?!?!?

Greg Cavanagh
September 13, 2015 1:00 pm

Whoever filmed this, a big thank you. Whoever posted this on utube, a huge THANK YOU. There must be a lot more footage, and a lot of paper trail. I hope this goes to court and gets a thorough going over.
This is epic, and was entirely predictable.
If you’re digging in the side of a hill looking for what? water? what were you going to do if you found some?

Luca Siciliano
September 17, 2015 4:01 pm

Alternative interpretation: too much tailings material; faked the accident.

September 23, 2015 12:00 pm

Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
How to screw up by the numbers.

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