EPA wastewater spill reaches New Mexico

Aug. 10, 2015

FARMINGTON, N.M. — The discharge from the Gold King Mine turned the Animas River orange and will reach additional states this week.

FARMINGTON, N.M. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spilled an estimated 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater into the Animas River, turning it orange, according to usatoday.com.

The EPA previously estimated the amount of discharged wastewater from the Gold King Mine at 1 million gallons, noted the article. The orange water has flowed from Colorado to New Mexico.

Every minute 500 gallons of wastewater is discharged, stated the article. According to EPA Region 8 Administrator Shaun McGrath, the discharge is being contained and treated near the spill site.

Arsenic levels were 300 times the normal level at their peak in the Durango, Colorado, area of the river, reported the article. Lead was tested at 3,400 times the normal level. EPA Region 8 Toxicology and Human Health and Risk Assessment chief advised that the concentrations remain in one area for a short amount of time.

The Navajo Nation Commission on Emergency Management and Durango and La Plata County, Colorado, declared states of emergency, shared the article. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and State Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn criticized the EPA for delaying notification of the spill.

EPA officials are helping people sample private wells, noted the article. Water quality experts have arrived to encourage people to take advantage of water quality sampling.

Residents have been advised to avoid contact with the river, reported the article. They should also not catch fish from the river or allow livestock to drink water from it. Some farmers are concerned about their crops failing because of the shut-off of irrigation canals.

McGrath stated in the article that one option for the EPA is to add it to the National Priorities List as a Superfund site. Officials believe the pollution could reach Utah on Monday and Arizona by Wednesday.

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