Paul has paid attention to the details more than I.
Good evening, all.
I’ve been trying to make sense of the EPA and White House response / non-response to EPA’s monumental screw-up, toxic flash flood and whitewash in Colorado – especially in terms of EPA’s recent statements (see below), how it has gone after corporations for decades, and how it has characterized toxic discharges in the past. Not much consistency, but a lot of irony and hypocrisy, it seems to me. And very hard for anyone to figure out which of EPA’s many statements over the years to believe re toxicity and lethality, or whether to trust the agency on this.
I can’t even tell from this news story whether they were trying to push a 3 or 4-inch pipe up into the mine, to gauge water pressure – or trying to ram an 8-inch pipe through the rubble to drain the mine … without having first constructed a safety/retention pond … or having any idea how much water and water pressure they were dealing with. Very negligent, it seems to me. And what they mean by “sticking a pipe into the TOP of the mine” I likewise cannot comprehend.
If EPA was really being “very careful,” this wouldn’t have happened. And when did you ever hear EPA say a toxic spill was “worse aesthetically” than in reality? Perhaps with one of the coal mine accidents? Or BP’s Macondo spill five years ago? Whatever happened to EPA’s Linear No Threshold proclamations on countless chemicals, including lead, cadmium and other heavy metals in this toxic flood? And will these trout that “survived” in the toxic stream be safe for eagles and humans to eat, under EPA’s and Big Green’s bioaccumulation mantras?
As to the Animas and San Juan Rivers being “massive river systems,” that’s a new one on me, especially in August, during a “hot, dry summer.” Somehow I don’t picture either river as being on par with the Missouri or Mississippi. So this all sounds like a lot of dissembling and whitewashing to me.
So I’m wondering whether you might have a few thoughts you’d like to share on this, on background, for attribution or not, or to really take your gloves off.
Any comments you might like to share, for inclusion in some form in an upcoming article, would be most welcome – on these and any other topics you might want to wade in on. Many thanks.
EPA admits to misjudging pressure before spill
Published: Tuesday, August 11, 2015
U.S. EPA said it miscalculated how much water pressure was hidden behind debris plugging the Gold King Mine entrance when it accidentally released 3 million gallons of waste into a tributary of the Animas River last week.
EPA on-scene coordinator Hayes Griswold said his team was trying to stick a pipe into the top of the mine in order to safely pump liquid out for treatment. But the effort dislodged too much debris, rupturing the mine’s roof and spilling the water contaminated with lead, arsenic and other heavy metals.
“We were very careful,” he said (Steve Garrison, [Farmington, N.M.] Daily Times, Aug. 10).
This week, EPA is warning farmers, towns and tribes to shut down their water intakes as the plume of contamination passes down stretches of the Animas and San Juan rivers flowing toward Lake Powell.
The agency said contaminants were flowing too fast to be an immediate health threat, and experts say the massive river system will dilute the waste before it can pose a long-term threat.
“The water appears worse aesthetically than it actually is, in terms of health,” said Ron Cohen, civil and environmental engineering professor at the Colorado School of Mines.
Still, EPA has closed stretches of the river for drinking and recreation through Monday. The Navajo Nation has declared an emergency and stopped diverting water from the San Juan River.
EPA’s warning has brought fear to farmers already suffering a hot, dry summer.
“By the weekend, without any rain, we’ll be in trouble,” said farmer D’rese Sutherland.
So far, wildlife has not been impacted by the spill, and a test batch of fingerling trout purposely exposed to the water survived over the weekend, officials said (AP/Los Angeles Times, Aug. 10). — AW