Filed Under:  U.S. & World

Wastewater from Colorado Mine Reaches New Mexico

Contributed by on August 9, 2015 at 9:39 am

About 1 million gallons of orange-hued waste water that had been held behind a barrier at the abandoned Gold King Mine spilled after a breach Wednesday into Cement Creek, and then flowed into the Animas River, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials said. “We know the importance to people to have this information.” “But in person, it truly looks like the river was turned into carrot juice”.

The Navajo Nation was bracing on Saturday for the arrival of a neon-orange, heavy-metals-infused plume of mining wastewater that was flowing toward the San Juan River from the Animas in Colorado. “I will push for answers to how this incident happened, and I won’t rest until we are sure that any possible impacts to the downstream communities or the environment have been addressed to the greatest extent possible”. However, this is very much a short-term plan, while the long-term issue of cleaning up the spill will take some time according to McGrath.

EPA officials say there will be long term impacts because of sediment that is settling along the Animas. “As we have storm surges, as we have flooding events, that sediment can and likely will get kicked back up into the water”.

Officials in the cities of Aztec and Farmington say they have shut down the river’s access to water treatment plants, adding that the communities had a 90-day supply of water.

The plume traveled down the Animas River and reached the San Juan River at the junction between the two waterways in New Mexico, Truby-Tillen said. The tainted water reached New Mexico overnight Friday into Saturday and was headed toward the San Juan River, which flows through the Navajo Nation.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, called the wastewater release “of great concern” and called on “all relevant federal agencies to ensure potentially affected areas in New Mexico and the Navajo Nation will get the attention and services they need”. Instead of entering the mine and beginning the process of pumping and treating the contaminated water inside as planned, the team accidentally caused it to flow into the nearby Animas River. Aerial photos showed the slow-moving yellow water snaking by scenic mountain roads surrounded by pine trees.


The EPA warned people to stay out of the river and to keep domestic animals from drinking from it. Local officials declared stretches of the river off-limits in Colorado and New Mexico. Arsenic at high levels can cause blindness, paralysis and cancer. Lead poisoning can create muscle and vision problems for adults, harm development in fetuses, and lead to kidney disease, developmental problems and sometimes death in children, the agency said. The crew was making an attempt to enter the mine as a part of a challenge to pump and deal with the water, EPA spokeswoman Lisa McClain-Vanderpool stated.

Contaminated water may pose threat for wildlife