EPA's toxic waste spill to cost taxpayers as much as $30 billion

The toxic spill initiated by the EPA last week may eventually end up costing taxpayers up to $30 billion, according to the American Action Forum.

The high cost of the cleanup results from the fact that the spill, which began in Colorado, wound its way through the mountain west, affecting waters in New Mexico and Utah via the Animas and San Juan rivers.

Washington Examiner:

EPA and state officials say much of the toxic plume has dissipated in the Animas River, which the EPA confirmed Friday as being back to pre-spill conditions. But concerns remain that pollution in the rivers' sediment layers may have to be removed, with officials predicting a clean-up effort that could take years to complete.

The American Action Forum's study attempts to piece together estimates of the cost of the clean-up effort by reviewing a variety of the EPA's own assessments and modeling that were used for related events such as oil spills.

It also examined agency cost estimates for its controversial Waters of the U.S. rule, as well as regulations for limiting water discharges from power plants.

The study concludes that the cost of the toxic waste spill "might range between $2.7 million, $424 million, or $16.3 billion, but it will probably take months to assess the full damage," which could push estimates higher.

The study says using EPA's assessments for oil spills could push the clean-up costs to as high as $27.7 billion. But the study concedes that it cannot be precise in its cost estimates, because there is little precedent for the EPA to rely upon to inform a direct assessment of the clean up.

"I think it is more likely to be in the millions because the high-end figures are based off of oil spills in the Arctic (a close comparison), however the total volume for this is less than the average major oil spill," Sam Batkins, American Action Forum's regulatory affairs director, said in an email.

The study shows that EPA's cost assessment of a power plant rule is also instructive in determining the clean-up costs, because it deals with toxins being discharged into the water, although at much lower concentrations than were recorded in the Animas spill.

It says that the spill in Colorado released more than 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into the water, "which translates into more than 25 million pounds."

The group calculates that by assuming "a monetary equivalent of 90 cents per gallon of toxic waste the cost of the Animas River spill [will] be at least $2.7 million" when using the numbers from the power plant rule.

Heavy metals, such as the kind that are now in the sediment of the Animas river, are hugely expensive to clean up.  If not done very carefully, all you'll end up doing is spreading the pollution over a wider area.  It will probably take years to do a thorough job.

It is typical of the Obama administration that there is no accountability for this environmental disaster.  No one has been fired.  No one has even been demoted.  There is no price to be paid for failure and incompetence.  We can predict with some confidence that, without accountability, these "accidents" will continue to happen.

The toxic spill initiated by the EPA last week may eventually end up costing taxpayers up to $30 billion, according to the American Action Forum.

The high cost of the cleanup results from the fact that the spill, which began in Colorado, wound its way through the mountain west, affecting waters in New Mexico and Utah via the Animas and San Juan rivers.

Washington Examiner:

EPA and state officials say much of the toxic plume has dissipated in the Animas River, which the EPA confirmed Friday as being back to pre-spill conditions. But concerns remain that pollution in the rivers' sediment layers may have to be removed, with officials predicting a clean-up effort that could take years to complete.

The American Action Forum's study attempts to piece together estimates of the cost of the clean-up effort by reviewing a variety of the EPA's own assessments and modeling that were used for related events such as oil spills.

It also examined agency cost estimates for its controversial Waters of the U.S. rule, as well as regulations for limiting water discharges from power plants.

The study concludes that the cost of the toxic waste spill "might range between $2.7 million, $424 million, or $16.3 billion, but it will probably take months to assess the full damage," which could push estimates higher.

The study says using EPA's assessments for oil spills could push the clean-up costs to as high as $27.7 billion. But the study concedes that it cannot be precise in its cost estimates, because there is little precedent for the EPA to rely upon to inform a direct assessment of the clean up.

"I think it is more likely to be in the millions because the high-end figures are based off of oil spills in the Arctic (a close comparison), however the total volume for this is less than the average major oil spill," Sam Batkins, American Action Forum's regulatory affairs director, said in an email.

The study shows that EPA's cost assessment of a power plant rule is also instructive in determining the clean-up costs, because it deals with toxins being discharged into the water, although at much lower concentrations than were recorded in the Animas spill.

It says that the spill in Colorado released more than 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into the water, "which translates into more than 25 million pounds."

The group calculates that by assuming "a monetary equivalent of 90 cents per gallon of toxic waste the cost of the Animas River spill [will] be at least $2.7 million" when using the numbers from the power plant rule.

Heavy metals, such as the kind that are now in the sediment of the Animas river, are hugely expensive to clean up.  If not done very carefully, all you'll end up doing is spreading the pollution over a wider area.  It will probably take years to do a thorough job.

It is typical of the Obama administration that there is no accountability for this environmental disaster.  No one has been fired.  No one has even been demoted.  There is no price to be paid for failure and incompetence.  We can predict with some confidence that, without accountability, these "accidents" will continue to happen.