EPA triggers another toxic spill in Colorado

Once again, the EPA, rather than preventing pollution, is causing toxic spill at a mine in Colorado. Last August 5th it was the Gold King Mine, and the 3 million gallon spill polluted the Animas River.  This time, it was the Standard Mine, near Crested Butte, and 2000 gallons of wastewater flowed into a nearby creek. And the EPA, once again, is guilty of misconduct.

Bruce Finley of the Denver Post reports:

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton said the spill — while not a disaster like the EPA-triggered 3 million-gallon Gold King deluge that turned the Animas River mustard-yellow — raises questions about EPA procedures.

"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," Tipton said. "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?"

The Standard Mine, five miles west of Crested Butte and abandoned, has been designated an environmental disaster since 2005 and targeted for a superfund cleanup. It is one of an estimated 230 inactive mines in Colorado that state officials know to be leaking toxic heavy metals into headwaters of the nation's rivers.

EPA work at the Standard Mine was halted after the Aug. 5 Gold King blowout above Silverton — pending an EPA review of procedures at old mines. The Standard Mine work resumed Sept. 5. (snip)

"Once again the Environmental Protection Agency has apparently endangered Colorado's waterways while drilling at an abandoned mine," Coffman said. "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."

Marjorie Haun of Watchdog.org reports the EPA is not living up to its obligations

“Once again the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] has failed to notify the appropriate local officials and agencies of the spill in a timely manner.” These are the words of U.S. Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in response to another toxic spill resulting from EPA activities at an abandoned mine in western Colorado. (snip)

Tipton told Watchdog Arena that the EPA, to date, has failed to provide answers to Congress about its handling of the Aug. 5 Gold King mine disaster. “We still have not received any answers to the initial request to the EPA. In hearings, Gina McCarthy claimed to know nothing about the Congressional letter of inquiry into the spill, and her staff just shrugged.”

Tipton, whose district, in two months has been impacted by two significant accidents triggered by EPA mine crews, said that the House of Representatives is devising “good Samaritan” legislation that would ensure, in the case of disasters such as these, local and state officials are able get involved and take charge of these issues to address them in more timely and effective ways than the EPA has done.


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