A report detailing the cause of the Animas River environmental disaster, which resulted in the release of millions of gallons of heavy-metal containing wastewater into a scenic Colorado river, blames the EPA for the incident….contrary to an internal review conducted by the agency itself.

The Environmental Protection Agency botched the clean-up effort at the Gold King Mine by rushing to complete the job instead of taking precautions that would have prevented the disastrous toxic spill into the Animas River.

A 132-page report released Thursday by the Interior Department and Bureau of Reclamation found that the Aug. 5 accident was not “inevitable,” as the EPA’s own internal review had concluded, but could have been avoided if the agency had followed engineering practices used at other inactive mines.

…According to the report, the agency committed a pivotal error by failing to gauge the level of wastewater behind the collapsed rock and soil at the mine, which could have been done by using a drill rig to “bore into the mine from above and directly determine the level of the mine pool prior to excavating backfill at the portal.”

Key complaints about the EPA related to this event center on its failure to adequately address a potential blowout and the agency’s rush to begin work without gathering adequate information on the challenges of the project.

The Interior report directly refutes that assertion and says the cleanup team could have used a drill rig to bore into the mine from above to gauge the danger of a blowout.

“This error resulted in development of a plan to open the mine in a manner that appeared to guard against blowout, but instead led directly to the failure,” according to engineers from Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation who spent two months evaluating the technical circumstances surrounding the accident.

…A US Army Corps of Engineers official who reviewed the report expressed “serious reservations” over the EPA’s failure to explain exactly how its communications broke down, or to justify why its officials were so insistent on starting the work without more information about the engineering complexities involved.

According to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the EPA would “hold itself to the highest standards” during its investigation. However, it is apparent that the agency is desperately trying to minimize all responsibility for its role in the August disaster.

The irony of the EPA giving itself a pass while holding average citizens to a platinum standard is not lost on some. One man confronted McCarthy during her recent “Apology Tour.”

Ed Blinzler said he’s been fined by the EPA in the past as a private contractor building houses. Blinzler claims he was fined $7,000 by the EPA in recent years after dirt was running into the street during a home building project.

In the middle of his story, EPA Administrator McCarthy said, “I get your point! You’re asking us if we’re going to hold ourselves to the same standard.”

Blinzler replied, “How much of a fine are you going to pay? How much of a fine are you going to pay us?”

And while average citizens aren’t going to get compensated for the accident, the EPA is spending their tax dollars to fix its mistake. The agency has just opened up a temporary treatment plant to cleanup the remaining wastewater from the Gold King Mine:

A temporary treatment plant has begun cleaning up polluted water flowing from the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado after an accident sent millions of gallons of waste into rivers in three states.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday the $1.8 million plant is processing up to 800 gallons per minute, including water flowing from the mine and water stored in ponds.

The EPA says the plant costs about $20,000 a week to operate. The agency says it has now spent nearly $14.5 million cleaning up after the Aug. 5 spill.

Construction of such a treatment plant was predicted by geologist Dave Taylor, in an op-ed that described what was likely to happen if the EPA implemented its clean-up plans—which was published about a week before the spill.

While the temporary treatment plant may cleanse the water remaining in the abandoned mine, the contamination to the agency’s reputation will remain into the foreseeable future.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.