EPA was aware of 'blow out' risk at Colorado mine

The Environmental Protection Agency knew of the dangers of a "blow out" at the Gold King Mine in Colorado and stil went ahead with the attempt to clean it.

More than 3 million gallons were released into the river systems of Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico when waste water containing heavy metals were accidently unleashed by the EPA.

Associated Press:

Among the documents is a June 2014 work order for a planned cleanup that noted that the old mine had not been accessible since 1995, when the entrance partially collapsed. The plan appears to have been produced by Environmental Restoration, a private contractor working for EPA.

“This condition has likely caused impounding of water behind the collapse,” the report says. “Conditions may exist that could result in a blowout of the blockages and cause a release of large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine, which contain concentrated heavy metals.”

A subsequent May 2015 action plan for the mine also notes the potential for a blowout.

It was not clear what additional precautions were taken to prepare for such a release, and the EPA did not immediately respond to questions about the matter.

A 71-page safety plan for the site produced by Environmental Restoration included only a few lines describing steps to be taken in the event of a spill: Locate the source and stop the flow if it could be done safely, begin containment and recovery of the spilled materials, and alert downstream sanitary districts and drinking water systems as needed.

There are at least three ongoing investigations into exactly how EPAtriggered the disaster, which tainted rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah with lead, arsenic and other contaminants. The toxic plume travelled roughly 300 miles to Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border.

EPA says its water testing has shown contamination levels have since been returning to pre-spill levels, though experts warn the heavy metals have likely sunk and mixed with bottom sediments that could someday be stirred back up.

The documents, which the agency released about 10:30 p.m. eastern time, do not include any account of what happened immediately before or after the spill. The wastewater flowed into a tributary of the Animas and San Juan rivers, turning them a sickly yellow-orange color.

The EPA has released just enough information without indicting itself for incompetence and stupidity. That is likely to come later when Congress tries to get to the bottom of what happened.

Should they have paid better heed to the warnings? Considering the catastrophic result, yes. It doesn't get much worse than what happened to the waste water, so if you were going to prioritize potential hazards, it's hard to see how the blow out scenario could have been overlooked.

No one has been fired yet. The EPA has taken responsibility for the spill but no one has been held accountable. This is par for the course in the Obama administration where bureaucrats can do no wrong - even if they screw up royally.

 

The Environmental Protection Agency knew of the dangers of a "blow out" at the Gold King Mine in Colorado and stil went ahead with the attempt to clean it.

More than 3 million gallons were released into the river systems of Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico when waste water containing heavy metals were accidently unleashed by the EPA.

Associated Press:

Among the documents is a June 2014 work order for a planned cleanup that noted that the old mine had not been accessible since 1995, when the entrance partially collapsed. The plan appears to have been produced by Environmental Restoration, a private contractor working for EPA.

“This condition has likely caused impounding of water behind the collapse,” the report says. “Conditions may exist that could result in a blowout of the blockages and cause a release of large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine, which contain concentrated heavy metals.”

A subsequent May 2015 action plan for the mine also notes the potential for a blowout.

It was not clear what additional precautions were taken to prepare for such a release, and the EPA did not immediately respond to questions about the matter.

A 71-page safety plan for the site produced by Environmental Restoration included only a few lines describing steps to be taken in the event of a spill: Locate the source and stop the flow if it could be done safely, begin containment and recovery of the spilled materials, and alert downstream sanitary districts and drinking water systems as needed.

There are at least three ongoing investigations into exactly how EPAtriggered the disaster, which tainted rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah with lead, arsenic and other contaminants. The toxic plume travelled roughly 300 miles to Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border.

EPA says its water testing has shown contamination levels have since been returning to pre-spill levels, though experts warn the heavy metals have likely sunk and mixed with bottom sediments that could someday be stirred back up.

The documents, which the agency released about 10:30 p.m. eastern time, do not include any account of what happened immediately before or after the spill. The wastewater flowed into a tributary of the Animas and San Juan rivers, turning them a sickly yellow-orange color.

The EPA has released just enough information without indicting itself for incompetence and stupidity. That is likely to come later when Congress tries to get to the bottom of what happened.

Should they have paid better heed to the warnings? Considering the catastrophic result, yes. It doesn't get much worse than what happened to the waste water, so if you were going to prioritize potential hazards, it's hard to see how the blow out scenario could have been overlooked.

No one has been fired yet. The EPA has taken responsibility for the spill but no one has been held accountable. This is par for the course in the Obama administration where bureaucrats can do no wrong - even if they screw up royally.