Earlier this month, employees of the Environmental Protection Agency, acting in their official capacities, caused one of the largest hazardous waste spills in recent history.
“For almost a week, a torrent of toxic sludge — the color of hot mustard and rife with poisonous metals — has been flowing through Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. On Monday, the governor of Colorado declared a belated state of emergency, as officials announced that the popular Animas River would remain closed until at least Aug. 17,” NBC reports.
The “transparent” Obama administration, however, is hiding the actual details of how the agency ostensibly responsible for keeping our waterways clean created this environmental disaster.
As NBC reports:
So far, the EPA has said very little about the cause of the spill, and it declined msnbc’s request for additional comment. Officials acknowledged that the spill was triggered while an EPA-supervised crew was working near Silverton, Colorado, in the southwest part of the state.
Fluid from inside the Gold King Mine, shuttered since 1923, has been leaching into the surrounding area. That mine alone was a slow motion disaster, in the EPA’s opinion, and the area is shot through with dozens of similarly toxic wells. It’s so bad that the EPA has tried to declare the area a Superfund site — clearing the way for an ambitious cleanup.
But after local opposition, the agency opted for a more modest, incremental plan. A crew would slurp out the worst pools of sludge and dispose of them properly. That was the goal near Silverton when heavy equipment somehow disturbed an earthen wall that secured the liquid, releasing an up to 80-mile ribbon of pollution downstream.
The extent of the damage was still unknown late Monday. The orange color had dissipated, but it left behind layers of sludge in some places and a plume of toxins still cruising downriver. The most worrisome pollutants are arsenic and lead, which respectively peaked at 300 times and 3,500 times the normal levels, according to EPA test results released on Friday.
In nearby Durango, Colorado, the mayor assured people that the water was safe to drink because the city shut off its intake valve from the Animas. But farmers, tribal leaders and municipal officials elsewhere closed wells and switched thousands of residents to alternative sources of water as a precaution.
Seven water systems in New Mexico and Colorado have been affected, officials said, and the Animas River ultimately connects with the Colorado River — a source of drinking water for much of the West.
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, a Republican, is not buying the EPA’s secret handling of the debacle.
On Tuesday Martinez told Fox News the spill is “very dangerous.”
“We are not aware of all of the toxins in the river,” Martinez said.
“The EPA hasn’t been communicating and has not been forthcoming with the state of New Mexico as to the different types of toxins. We asked all cattle, the ranchers, anyone that has any kind of livestock to keep the animals away, for people not to be in the river, do not drink the water or boil it thinking that will cause the water to be potable. The dangers in the short term and long term are unknown because the EPA is not communicating openly with the state,” Martinez added.
The timing of the dangerous spill caused by the EPA, one that would quite possibly result in criminal charges had it been caused by a private firm, is not good for the EPA.
Last week, the agency finalized a carbon dioxide emission regulation for coal power plants that at least 16 states are already challenging in court, claiming it is both draconian and not based on any statutory authority.