Photo from Fox News
This is becoming a habit with the screw-ups at the Environmental Protection Agency, an oxymoron if there ever was one with their recent track record. The dingbats triggered yet ANOTHER release of water contaminated with heavy metals into a small stream that feeds into a larger river that serves as a water source for people living in rural Colorado.
This time the Standard Mine was upstream from Crested Butte, the stream is really more of a creek, and there were ONLY 2,000 gallons spilled rather than a few million, but does this sound familiar? From the Denver Post:
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….
The spill happened at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, and the EPA said it immediately informed public works officials. Residents weren’t notified. Crested Butte Mayor Aaron Huckstep said he wasn’t notified until Thursday….
“Subsequent investigation found no visible plume or signs of significant impacts in downstream locations,” the EPA said.
At the cleanup site, acidic wastewater laced with cancer-causing cadmium and other toxic heavy metals leaches out of the mine into Elk Creek, which flows into Coal Creek — a primary source of water for Crested Butte. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has determined that the levels of arsenic, cadmium and zinc in Coal Creek exceed state standards.
Yet again, the EPA is “protecting the environment” by using heavy equipment and disturbing the seepage at abandoned mining sites that were at least locally dealt with before the EPA decided to clean them up. In this case, “EPA crew members were drilling a new opening at the mine, parallel to a portal that is partially collapsed. They were using a vacuum truck to siphon water from a waste pond, but the truck “dipped too low,” the EPA’s statement said, causing grey-colored water from inside the mine and sediment to spill into Elk Creek.” Adding insult to injury, the EPA told public works officials, but not the residents or officials higher up on the food chain who could actually get word out to the public quickly. This is a bad habit the EPA has of not telling the whole truth to the people most effected by the messes they make.
With this EPA “protecting” the environment even if abandoned mines are seeping heavy metals into the headwaters in Colorado, one has to wonder what the real goal of the clean-up superfund is – really get the heavy metals out of the water or make that part of Colorado uninhabitable.