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Old 08-10-2015, 05:43 PM   #1
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Animas River

We spent a week last year in Durango CO and had a wonderful experience rafting on the Animas river. You have probably heard of it in the news the last few days. The EPA managed to spill toxic waste in it from a plugged up gold mine and now the river is mustard colored and poluted. Much is still unknown on how dangerous the contamination may be but you really need to ask what the EPA is doing to fix and it doesn't appear they are doing much.

I find it ironic this is the same agency that can substantially fine boaters for much more minor spills. So, who is fining the EPA for the mess they created?

Sorry, just venting.
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Old 08-10-2015, 05:49 PM   #2
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Here are some side by side shots of the river before the EPA accident on the left and after on the right.
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Old 08-10-2015, 06:03 PM   #3
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The Durango Herald 08/09/2015 | Durango kayaker reacts to Animas River photo that went viral

saw it the other day just horrible
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Old 08-10-2015, 09:41 PM   #4
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I live 1/4 mile from the Animas. The EPA said today they think there was a 3 million gallon release. A olympic size swimming pool holds 660,000 gallons. There is NO way the river would run that dirty for so many days and only have 3 million gallons. A lot of the sediment is not going down stream and is settling in the rock, gravel, and sand despite some good rains. They say no fish have died yet the build up of lead and arsenic are bound to occur. No mention of mercury but got to be some. The Animas runs into the San Juan and eventually into Lake Powell where it will stay. They are draining our local lake to dilute the river. We have a two week water supply in the reservoir that receive water from the Animas. Business have shut down, farmers are unable to irrigate, and tourism has dropped significantly. Many water wells will be contaminated. Worst part is there is no intention to plug the mine. Spent two months in SE Alaska and spoke with a gentlemen that took a team of scientist to Prince William Sound. Significant amounts of oil were easily found in the sand and rock. EPA trying to cover their asses on this one. The long term impact won't be know for a long time. The fishing was outstanding. Better get used to catch and release. Having grew up in Durango it is quite a tragedy.
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:23 AM   #5
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Old 08-11-2015, 12:03 PM   #6
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The EPA tells the locals not to worry....then why were they regulating the mine in the first place? This is going to make the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago look insignificant in comparison. However, the EPA is doing a pretty good job of sweeping it under the carpet.
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donsan View Post
We spent a week last year in Durango CO and had a wonderful experience rafting on the Animas river. You have probably heard of it in the news the last few days. The EPA managed to spill toxic waste in it from a plugged up gold mine and now the river is mustard colored and poluted. Much is still unknown on how dangerous the contamination may be but you really need to ask what the EPA is doing to fix and it doesn't appear they are doing much.

I find it ironic this is the same agency that can substantially fine boaters for much more minor spills. So, who is fining the EPA for the mess they created?

Sorry, just venting.
We (US citizens) can't go there! We would be fining ourselves, the tax payers. It is what it is; government incompetence in action.
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Old 08-11-2015, 03:16 PM   #8
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Where are all of the "non-profit" environmental groups? If this was caused by someone with a profit motive, there would be endless protests and screeches of righteous indignation.
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Old 08-11-2015, 03:52 PM   #9
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Where are all of the "non-profit" environmental groups? If this was caused by someone with a profit motive, there would be endless protests and screeches of righteous indignation.
Well, isn't that the truth!
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Old 08-11-2015, 06:40 PM   #10
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We (US citizens) can't go there! We would be fining ourselves, the tax payers. It is what it is; government incompetence in action.
Good points, but the folks harmed by this need to be made whole by the US Gov't. Unfortunately, that means they get reimbursed by we, the people. But the right thing should happen here just like BP was made to pay for the Gulf oil spill.

Maybe the gov't can put unemployed to work helping with the cleanup. I fear this may have major repercussions for many, many years to come just like the way we're still dealing with heavy metals in the rivers and bays in Northern CA 150+ years after the gold rush days of the mid-1800s.
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Old 08-13-2015, 02:08 PM   #11
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Not familiar with the river or mine but how is the EPA responsible for this, was this a government mining operation? I thought the EPA had rules that industry by law was supposed to follow to protect the environment. Did the mine operator ignore the law while the EPA ignored their duty to the public?


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Old 08-13-2015, 06:14 PM   #12
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Some of these mines are up to 150 years old. Many of the mines are not "owned" by anyone. So the USEPA steps in and directs the cleanup by using one of their contractors. The contractor is ordered and guided by the EPA to follow a set plan. Often the set plan is flawed and incompetent. Follow this release. It should be interesting to watch the politics and blame game.
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Old 08-13-2015, 07:07 PM   #13
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Some of these mines are up to 150 years old. Many of the mines are not "owned" by anyone. So the USEPA steps in and directs the cleanup by using one of their contractors. The contractor is ordered and guided by the EPA to follow a set plan. Often the set plan is flawed and incompetent. Follow this release. It should be interesting to watch the politics and blame game.
Not to mention the EPA selects the contractor who is the "low bidder" and has every incentive to cut corners.
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Old 08-13-2015, 07:16 PM   #14
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River Cruiser, the EPA is not mentioning any names but my understanding is someone was messing around with the mine sight opening causing the formerly plugged mine to all of a sudden collapse resulting in the release of the toxic water. Should have left well enough alone. I'm sure the mine was likely leaking but what the individual did was open it up so that it was no longer controllable. There is still over a million gallons a day being released from the mine. There are holding ponds that have been built to catch some of the heavy metals and sediment. The EPA has never accurately fessed up with how much water was released initially. Not sure it would be possible to estimate anyway. What is done is done and the Animas River and Lake Powell will never be the same.I understand the EPA's attempts to replug the mine have been futile. May need to find a private company that is competent to handle such an job and plug the mine. Just someone who lives down stream.
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Old 08-13-2015, 07:17 PM   #15
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From the small amount of information available it would seem that the Contractor, under EPA supervision was attempting to remedy a small leak in the containment barrier. I can only assume this was done without a proper cofferdam or suitable secondary containment. As mentioned the river may look fine in a few days but the heavy metals will be there for a long long time. There is no effective "clean-up" procedure by now they are in the sand, silt, water, deposited all along the banks and will leach forever. Major tragedy those responsible will probably be transferred over to the IRS or some other agency.
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Old 08-13-2015, 07:28 PM   #16
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Hopefully the EPA has learned a lesson about what could happen when you start screwing around with a closed mine. It may be the individual working for the EPA had good intentions but was ignorant about the quantity of water and heavy metals that had been sealed off for many years. There are hundreds of mines in our area most of which have been dynamited to close off access to the mines. It is rare to find one open and most leach water. The best we can hope for is that El Nino' will come through for us this winter and cause a significant runoff to occur. Lake Powell has been receiving millions of tons of sediment for years and perhaps the heavy metals can be trapped by additional sediment in years to come. There are several uranium mines in the area. Leave them alone unless they prove to be a threat.
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Old 08-13-2015, 09:10 PM   #17
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Having worked both sides of the coin...government and private sector...there's plenty of greed and incompetency to go around....


Sometimes bad government decisions are based on flawed info from contractors and their inability to handle the job...whether low bidder or not.


we all can probably cite many examples...both ways....
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Old 08-13-2015, 09:14 PM   #18
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Having mine reclamation experience in my resume including Southwest CO, I can only but say the EPA lacks the skill sets to manage and implement these efforts. Without knowing the specific details of this effort, comments are hard to put forth.

But, many businesses are due compensation for many months of lost revenues. Will it happen? We shall see.
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Old 08-13-2015, 09:28 PM   #19
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Thank goodness it is the EPA responsible for this Charlie Foxtrot. They must've found a miracle cure for dumping millions of gallons of toxic waste into a closed River/reservoir system. Some time back a private company dumped a few million gallons of oil into a frickin ocean and a decade later we still hear of ramifications. The EPA today reported everything's almost back to normal now, nothing to see here.
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Old 08-13-2015, 10:43 PM   #20
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Not to mention the EPA selects the contractor who is the "low bidder" and has every incentive to cut corners.
What makes you think they didn't award the contract to a minority owned business, regardless of bid?
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