3/3/16 Poisoned Water


Highly toxic contaminants were dumped in the river.  It poisoned the water.

Flint, Michigan?  No, I’m talking about the Animas River in the four corners region of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.

Last summer, Environmental Protection Agency workers spilled three million gallons of mine water.  It was a toxic cocktail of lead, zinc, arsenic and other heavy metals.  The Animas empties into the San Juan River, which runs through Navajo Nation.  Drinking, irrigation and livestock water was contaminated.  Hundreds of farmers and thousands of people were at risk.  Fish and wildlife were threatened.

[Updated: 3/7/2016: According to the New Mexico Secretary of the Environment, the EPA disaster released 880,000 lbs of lead into the Animas River, elevating lead content to dangerous levels.]

The spill occurred while the EPA was cleaning up a closed mine.  In sad irony, the EPA polluted the very region it was aiming to protect.

A review found the accident could have been avoided.  EPA workers failed to exercise proper precautions.

[Updated 3/7/2016: A recently obtained Bureau of Land Management email claims EPA workers purposely removed the plug that led to the eventual failure of the mine wall.  This resulted in the spill of three million gallons of contaminated mine water.]

[Updated 3/9/16: Investigators were secretly ordered to “stay clear” of EPA’s negligence in the disaster.]

The federal agency provided water for drinking, livestock and irrigation and then moved on to other matters.  However, Navajo leaders, citing devastation to crops and livestock, are still concerned.  Tribal leaders asked for emergency funds to conduct clean-up.  But FEMA denied their request.

The EPA is now part of a multi-agency federal task force investigating the Flint, Michigan water crisis.  In contrast, the federal government considers the EPA’s poisoning of Navajo waters a closed matter.

Isn’t that odd?

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