The orange-brown, toxic mine water and sludge accidentally released by the US Environmental Protection Agency on August 6, flowed down the Animas River through the hearts of towns in Colorado and New Mexico, and ultimately toward a lake in a national park.
The water, described as an “unnatural” orange color and loaded with heavy metals, was flowing through a stretch of wilderness as of Friday afternoon from Durango, Colorado toward Farmington, New Mexico. It is flowing toward the western edge of the Navajo Nation and along the Glen Canyon national recreation area in Utah.
The same area of wilderness in Utah contains well-known red rock cliffs and terraces in Utah, such as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
The toxic sludge, filled with arsenic and lead, has now crossed the state border into New Mexico. More than 550 gallons per minute are entering the water flow system according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which caused the spill.
High levels of arsenic can cause blindness, paralysis and cancer, while lead poisoning can create muscle and vision problems in adults and can be fatal for children.
“We’re busting our tails to get that out,” Environmental Protection Agency Regional Director Shaun McGrath said, as cited by AP. “We know the importance to people to have this information.”
The bright orange toxic sludge, which entered the Animas River in Colorado, has now crossed the state border into New Mexico and reached the city of Aztec on Friday night. Local communities in both states are not happy and have blasted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for being slow in warning residents after the spill took place.
“There’s not a lot we can do. We can keep people away (from the river) and keep testing. We still don’t know how bad it is,”San Juan County Emergency Management Director Don Cooper said, according to AP.
Officials in the cities of Aztec and Farmington say they have shut down the river’s access to water treatment plants, adding that the communities had a 90-day supply of water.
The Animas flows into the San Juan River in New Mexico, and the San Juan flows into Utah, where it joins the Colorado River in Lake Powell. There are also reports that the contaminated water is heading towards Utah.
The EPA says they have finished building two containment ponds, which are aimed at treating the toxic sludge in the river. However, this is very much a short-term plan, while the long-term issue of cleaning up the spill will take some time according to McGrath.
“The sediment, the metals that are in that sediment are going to settle out to the stream bottom,” he said. “As we have storm surges, as we have flooding events, that sediment can and likely will get kicked back up into the water. We’re going to have to do ongoing monitoring,” McGrath added.
It is estimated that over one million gallons of toxic waste has already found its way into the river. The spill was caused after the EPA was investigating the abandoned Gold King Mine on Wednesday together with the state Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety. They accidentally breached a debris dam that had formed inside the mine and this triggered the release of the waste into Cement Creek, a tributary of the Animas River in San Juan County.
Ironically, the initial goal was to find a safe way to pump out the wastewater from the mine, which was abandoned in 1923 and treat it, EPA spokeswoman Lisa McClain-Vanderpool said.
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There will come a time when God will punish those who seek to destroy the earth….
And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. – Revelation 11:18 (KJV).
Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.-Jeremiah 23:15 (KJV).
Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away- Hosea 4:3 (KJV).
The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish – Isaiah 24:4 (KJV).
Behold, by my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a desert; their fish stink for lack of water and die of thirst -Isaiah 50:2 (KJV).