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What did the EPA reps know, and when did they know it?

What did the EPA reps know, and when did they know it?

Was the Animas River Spill a “Superfund Blitzkrieg” to fund favored contractors and new projects?

News related to the Animas River spill continues to stream from Colorado, including the discovery that a warning that a spill of wastewater was likely if EPA’s plans to drain the mines went forward as planned had been issued a week earlier.

The Silverton Standard published an eerie prediction made by professional geologist Dave Taylor detailing a sequence of events that could lead to environmental catastrophe on July 30, 2015. The editorial included the assertion that the EPA was poised to launch a “Superfund Blitzkrieg”. Gateway Pundit has a copy of the full letter; a summary of the key points I would like to cover is below:

…Based on my 47 years of experience as a professional geologist, it appears to be that the EPA is setting your town and the area up for a potential Superfund blitzkrieg.

…[M]ake no mistake, within seven to 150 days all of the 500 gpm flow will return to Cement Creek. Contamination may actually increase due to disturbance and flushing action within the workings.

The “grand experiment” in my opinion will fail. And guess what [EPA representative] Mr. Hestmark will say then?

Gee “Plan A” didn’t work so I guess that we will have to build a treatment plant at a cost to taxpayers of $100 million to $500 million (who knows).

Reading between the lines, I believe that the EPA’s plan all along. The proposed Red & Bonita plugging plan has been their way of getting a foot in the door to justify their hidden agenda for construction of a treatment plant. After all, with a budget of $8.2 billion and 17,000 employees, the EPA needs new, big projects to keep them in existence.”

Prior to the Obama Administration, I would be skeptical of an agency generating a major crisis in order to fix the problem it created. However, in the wake of Fast and Furious, this possibility must be considered.

To better comprehend the potential EPA goal, it is important to understand what Superfund is. Superfund is the program established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites, and it involves a complex process of identifying parties responsible for waste clean-up, arranging for the decontamination of the site, coordinating activity with local entities, and publishing reports. The regulation allows the EPA to compel responsible parties to perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-lead cleanups.

However, before any decontamination can begin, the area must be placed on the National Priorities List. And while the EPA has been attempting to get Animas declared a Superfund site for the past 25 years, the idea lacked real appeal for residents because tourists generally don’t consider hazardous waste sites great vacation destinations.

In the 1990s, sections of the Animas had been nominated by the EPA as a Superfund site for clean-up of pollutants from the Gold King Mine and other mining operations along the river, but lack of community support prevented its listing. Locals had feared that the label of a Superfund site would reduce the tourism in the area, the largest remaining source of income left in the region after the closure of the metal mines.

Lorraine Yapps Cohen, who I have worked with in the past to promote sensible science public policies, is a part-time resident of Durango, Co., which is one of the towns hardest hit by the release. She reports that the residents are livid and the businesses are hurting.

Cohen also shared an intriguing email from La Plata County is Allison Morrissey, indicating pressure is building to declare Silverton a Superfund site.

… But no one wants to leave any money on the table – especially when we don’t know the long term effects of this spill. There is a lot of local pressure now to get these mining sites in Silverton declared a Superfund site (then we can gets lots of $). Silverton has always claimed it was a local decision, and it would negatively impact tourism. Now La Plata County is saying that we have a say in the matter – because the Animas water is our lifeblood – and we need the sites cleaned up.

As Taylor predicted in his editorial, it appears that the process of Superfund listing has been expedited.

One aspect of this disaster that I have been questioning is the involvement of the contractor, because if Taylor had anticipated the release, then someone on that staff should have as well. The Wall Street Journal has the following information about Environmental Restoration, LLC:

From October 2007 through this month, Environmental Restoration has been awarded $381 million in federal contracts, according to government procurement data compiled on The vast majority—more than $364 million—of that total was for work for the EPA. About 10%, or $37 million of the EPA’s awarded amount, was for contracts within the state of Colorado.

The Gold King mine wasn’t a designated Superfund cleanup site, which would have required far more funding. Rather, Environmental Restoration was trying to stop wastewater from escaping the mine at the time of the breach, government documents indicate.

The massive spill—which resulted in dramatic images of mustard-colored wastewater laced with heavy metals—highlights the market for environmental cleanup firms, a lucrative government contracting business. The company was listed by an engineering trade publication last year as one of the top 100 environmental firms in the country, with revenue estimated at close to $80 million.

Reviewing the data points, and assuming that Environmental Restoration knew what Taylor knew, then why did they proceed with the operation? Was it because the situation was a win-win?

In other words, if they contained the wastewater, that was good. However, if it spilled into the river, then ultimately the EPA would be able to declare an environmental disaster and utilize the Superfund rules to locate responsible parties to pay and clean-up the mess. And if Environmental Restoration was tasked with the decontamination, even better!

If any of this is true, then the EPA has really deviated from its original mission. Its purpose was to protect the nation’s environment, not to shut down businesses with burdensome regulations and astronomical fines.

The Obama Administration has conducted a blitzkrieg on American businesses since its start, so if what Taylor surmised is right, then at least the EPA’s actions are consistent with that mission.

Meanwhile, I have to ask: What did the EPA representatives know and when did they know it?

[Featured Image via Twitter]


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Of course they did it. But – the idiots did not realize how incredibly bad this spill was going to be. It is worse than all the pollution from all the fracked wells ever drilled put together! This is worse than those offshore oil spills because those are biodegradable organic liquids. This was acid, heavy metals and mercury. These rivers will not recover in our lifetime.

EPA – The Environmental Pollution Agency!

We’ll know the what’s-what IF the EPA goes after Environmental Restoration and their insurance in any serious way.

AND whatever organization comes out of their bankruptcy, if the EPA DOES go after them.

If not, it’s just an inside job.

It’s an inside job. They are an industry and subject to Pournelle’s Iron Law of any organization. They exist simply to keep their organization alive. If they could remove every dangerous pollutant left everywhere with the wave of a wand they would sink the wand in concrete somewhere off the Atlantic trench then toss nuclear waste on top to keep people away.

Noblesse Oblige | August 13, 2015 at 8:05 pm

We need a serious Congressional investigation — I would like to know what political campaigns and organizations Environmental Restoration LLC has donated to. We know that they must have paid to play — the only question is who and how much.
As for the EPA, the bullies have shown their true colors. My friend suggests that the long term economic damage to the region be simply taken out of their budget until it is paid off. That would be generous. In actual fact they should be closed down.

    snopercod in reply to Noblesse Oblige. | August 13, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Oh yes, let’s have another congressional investigation where the popinjays strut and huff and puff and act outraged for the TV cameras and nothing is ever done.

    If we had an honest congress, they would refuse any additional funds for any cleanup and force the EPA to pay for it out of their existing budget.

    Obviously, I’m a dreamer…

      TX-rifraph in reply to snopercod. | August 14, 2015 at 7:16 am

      Do you know my Congressman Lamar Smith? He holds hearings, asks questions, issues press releases, and then ensures the EPA has the laws and funds to do the damage he complains about. The eunuchs in Congress need to repeal laws and end funding. All else is theater.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Noblesse Oblige. | August 15, 2015 at 12:03 am

    You took the words right off of my fingertips. I want to know about every campaign donation they’ve ever made, what PACs they may be funding, who the CEO and upper management have personally donated to, everything. I want to know if any of them ever bought or sold property in a sweetheart deal to anyone connected with Hillary or obastard. I want to see a complete dossier on the corporation as well as the individual officers and major shareholders. I want to see dossiers and political contributions from former officers – the whole 9 yards. I want the IG to review those previous contracts.

    And again I curse Richard Nixon for forming this agency.

Like the IRS & HS, EPA is in dire need of a full cleaning. Roll back regulations over the last ten years, fire everybody except the secretarial pool and janitors, and start over.

Then just eliminate HUD, Education, and the VA, turning to block grants and vouchers for the necessary projects and eliminating the others – and the bureaucrats who live on them.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Estragon. | August 14, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    The only action that would “improve” them is a 100% wipe out (shuttered and locked up).

I went to college in Durango, Colorado. Ft. Lewis College. This is a major ecological and economical disaster for the entire area. The Animas River flows into the San Juan River, which is a major tributary of the Colorado River. This will be affecting not only Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona, but going further, the Colorado River is a source of water (and power) for California as well. The demand for water from the Colorado River is never ending, always at odds with the environmentalists.

Congratulations, EPA, you’ve managed to do what decades of population infringement and demands have not.

Also worth asking whether the companies who get the juicy contracts have a history of making political contributions to a certain party or president.

I would order all 17,000 EPA workers to pick up brooms and order them to start sweeping Cement Creek, the beginning of the pollution, all the way down stream as far as possible to stir the sediment at the bottom of the river so it is carried away by the current. If they were ordered to do this, all the bullshit about the war on coal could be put to rest for a couple of years. The EPA has got to be stopped. If a Republican wins in ’16, maybe he should put a handful of nice retarded kids in charge of the organization and cut the budget to 10% of the present amount.

Midwest Rhino | August 13, 2015 at 10:16 pm

The CO governor drank the Animus River water, showing it was fine to play in … and drink. He did put an iodine tablet in first, to kill bacteria.

    Eskyman in reply to Midwest Rhino. | August 14, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Yeah, so he did; but the photo in the article sure doesn’t look like the same river as the yellow gunky mess that other photos show. Looks to me like Gov. Hickenlooper was way, way downstream- or maybe at a different tributary?

    It’s really a shame that there are so very, very few media outlets that can be trusted, even a little bit, in any way. I’m aware of what sells media, but today it’s all “narrative” all the time, even on what were once thought to be “conservative” media outlets. Sad.

      Midwest Rhino in reply to Eskyman. | August 14, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      someone along the river that has a tourist business said (on FOX) independent testing should all levels back to normal. CO fave the OK to use the water for municipal use, NM not yet. They yellow is mostly rust particles. No indication of damage to wildlife.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Eskyman. | August 15, 2015 at 12:12 am

      Hickenlooper has an entire kennel of dogs in this fight. He’s as dirty as the EPA. I hope he chokes on that glass of water he drank.

Another Voice | August 13, 2015 at 11:18 pm

This EPA’s way of saying “Sorry Folks”

August 12, 2015
CONTACT : Rick Abasta, Press Officer
Office of the President and Vice President
Phone: 928-871-7925
Fax: 928-871-4025
Email: [email protected]

U.S. EPA urges Navajo people to waive rights to future reimbursement claims

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz.—Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye warns tribal members against signing reimbursement claim forms being distributed by the U.S. EPA.

On August 11, the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President received reports that the EPA has actively been distributed Standard Form No. 95, which, if signed will waive future claims for damages or injuries.
“The federal government is asking our people to waive their future rights,” said President Begaye. “They know that without the waiver they will be paying millions to our people.

“It’s simple: they are protecting themselves at the expense of the Navajo people and it is outrageous,” he added.

The form states the following, “I certify that the amount of claim covers only damages and injuries caused by the incident above and agree to accept said amount in full satisfaction and final settlement of this claim.”

President Begaye is especially concerned for Navajo elders, some of whom many not know what they are signing, except for the fact that will receive money.

Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch said all signors will be limited to the specific claims filed, and any future claims for injuries caused by the Gold King Mine will be waived.

“Form number 95 will settle for current claims and preclude all future claims from the spill,” Branch said. “The U.S. EPA has admitted they are at fault and stated this disaster will last for decades. This is unacceptable. The damages to our people will be long term and the Navajo Nation will not settle for pennies. I have consistently stated that the Navajo people deserve to be compensated for every penny lost. I will not allow fine print to let U.S. EPA off the hook. The Navajo people deserve better from the federal government,” said President Begaye.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Another Voice. | August 14, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Sue! Native, Sue!

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Another Voice. | August 15, 2015 at 12:24 am

    Whoa, whoa, wait a minute: “Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch said all signors will be limited to the specific claims filed, and any future claims for injuries caused by the Gold King Mine will be waived.”

    Is the EPA indemnifying Gold King Mine in this proposed claim/settlement, or was that just casual phrasing by the tribe AG? Isn’t the tribe AG a lawyer, or have legal counsel?


Superfund is the program established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites, and it involves a complex process of identifying parties responsible for waste clean-up, […] to compel responsible parties to perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-lead cleanups.

Not so complex. They only have to identify one victim with deeo pockets, and prove that the victim was responsible for some part, however small, of the contamination, and make it pay for the whole thing. The designated victim may only have dumped one barrel of waste there, and not even toxic waste.

That’s on top of the injustice in the whole concept of making people who did nothing wrong pay, just because the EPA decided that a waste dump should be cleaned. These people paid to put their waste there in the first place, lawfully and responsibly, and now they have to pay again to take it out. Imagine if individuals were treated that way. Imagine if a town decided one day to clean up its garbage dump, and forced all the people whose garbage had gone there over the years to pay for it. Let alone if it found a person who had only ever produced one bag of garbage, and billed him for the cost of cleaning the whole dump.

the EPA has really deviated from its original mission. Its purpose was to protect the nation’s environment, not to shut down businesses with burdensome regulations and astronomical fines.

Really? Then why did it start by banning DDT, which was not harming anyone?

Interesting interview with the geologist, he is writing another letter to the paper as a follow up.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Moe4. | August 15, 2015 at 12:44 am


    How long before the Silverton newspaper is intimidated by the EPA into not accepting any more letters from the geologist?

If the river is declared clean and drinkable after this spill then why were contaminants damned up to begin with? The cost of the EPA mandated containment over the years should be refunded if releasing it did no damage.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to gold burier. | August 15, 2015 at 12:54 am

    The EPA is probably lying as part of an effort to get the tribe and others to settle quickly and cheaply. If the EPA can get the victims to believe there was no real harm and they have no real damages, then they’re much more likely to get the victims to settle for much less and do it before the fish start floating to the surface and people are sick from toxic metals poisoning, which takes some time to develop.

    Quick and dirty. It’s the “Chicago” obastard government’s way.

      They are lying obviously. Until they volunteer to relax the rules, we will know they are lying.

      They cant believably say “this must be contained and you must pay to for it” and “This huge release did no damage” at the same time.