Incompetent EPA knew of “blowout risk” prior to Animas River Spill
DENVER—Late last night, internal documents released show managers at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were aware of a catastrophic “blowout” risk prior to the Animas River Spill. The massive spill unleashed 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater into rivers that supply water for drinking, recreation and irrigation in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and the Navajo Nation.
“The dangerous, reckless and aloof EPA is proving it doesn’t deserve our hard-earned money or belong in the driver’s seat of environmental policy,” said Jonathan Lockwood, executive director of Advancing Colorado, a free-market advocacy group. “People are scared of the EPA, and they are living in fear of what will happen in the aftermath of this spill, and worse, they are terrified that this unaccountable, reckless government agency has the power to do it again.”
According to the Associated Press, the EPA released the documents following weeks of prodding from media and public outcry. Among the documents is a June 2014 work order for a cleanup that noted that the old Gold King Mine had not been accessible since 1995. The plan appears to have been produced, “by Environmental Restoration, a private contractor working for EPA.”
Now, there are at least three investigations into how the EPA triggered the disaster.
“Americans are outraged across the country over this spill and cannot wait until we have the ability to punish this job-killing, destructive, so-called Environmental ‘Protection’ Agency,” added Lockwood.
The EPA did not immediately respond Friday night to questions from the AP. In the wake of the spill, it has taken days to get detailed responses from the agency, “if at all.”
Officials expressed concern Thursday over the long-term effects of contaminated river bottoms due to the EPA triggered 3 million gallon-toxic spill into the Animas River, and has “downplayed the dangers.”
According to the Associated Press, in Colorado, contaminants exceeding drinking-water standards were found in seven wells. The EPA did not disclose the details on what contaminants were found. Officials said that they would, “continue to investigate the wells.”
Navajo Nation officials say the EPA delivered them dirty, brown water in oil tanks. After repeated attempts to speak with the EPA, Action 7 News received a written statement and little answers. The EPA says, “this was the only complaint the EPA got about the tanks.”
In a letter to the editor of the Silverton Standard and the Miner days before the spill, Farmington resident Dave Taylor predicted the EPA would “accidentally” release chemicals into the river.
Lawmakers from both parties have criticized the EPA’s communications throughout the scandal as “slow and overly cautious.” Leaders in both the House and Senate oversight committees are planning hearings after Congress returns from its August recess.