Unreal: The EPA has triggered another mine wastewater spill

Unreal: The EPA has triggered another mine wastewater spill
EPA Chief Gina McCarthy

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, the inaptly named Environmental Protection Agency is here once again to make sure it isnn’t.

According to the Denver Post, a crew from that federal agency working at the Standard Mine above Crested Butte, Colo., triggered a spill of wastewater into a creek that flows into the town water supply — a small-scale repeat of the Gold King Mine incident that occurred in August.

This time, the damage was comparatively small, with a mere 2,000 gallons turning the town water supply a tantalizing rust color. While nowhere near the 3 million-gallon deluge that turned the Animas River orange in the Gold King disaster, the newest spill raises questions about EPA competence.

mine-spill-map

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton said of the spill:

They told us things were going to be different. Now we have a spill. … We’ve apparently got a real challenge with the EPA, not only with notification but their accountability and their ability to adequately execute these types of cleanup projects. They’ve got resources. They’re the ones in charge of the program. And they’ve had two spills in my district alone. Is there a better way to approach this?

 

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who threatened legal action after the Gold King disaster, said she’ll do all she could to protect state resources and hold the EPA responsible:

Once again the Environmental Protection Agency has apparently endangered Colorado’s waterways while drilling at an abandoned mine. I continue to be concerned that the EPA wants to zealously regulate Colorado’s resources but refuses to be accountable for their own activities when they negatively impact our state.

The accident was the result of EPA crew members were drilling a new opening at the mine. They were using a vacuum truck to siphon water from a waste pond, but the truck “dipped too low,” according to federal source, causing the water inside the mine to spill into Elk Creek along with an unhealthy supply of sediment.

 

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer.


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