The EPA Knew

You’re probably aware of the recent ecological disaster the EPA caused in the Gold King Mine. While cleaning up the heavily polluted site, they caused a blowout that put millions of gallons of toxic water into the Animas and San Juan Rivers, turning them yellow. I’ve been waiting for more details on the event. Accidents happen, particularly when you’re working at a poorly known site. The EPA wasn’t just screwing around with the mine; they were trying to clean up an ongoing environmental problem that had killed many of the fish in the upper Animas river. Acid mine drainage is a huge environmental problem and is one of the reasons we have the EPA in the first place (I was just reading an article about the Berkeley Pit mine, a potential time bomb tat the EPA is defusing).

Well, we’re finding out some things now. And it looks very bad:

U.S. officials knew of the potential for a catastrophic “blowout” of poisonous wastewater from an inactive gold mine, yet appeared to have only a cursory plan to deal with such an event when a government cleanup team triggered a 3-million-gallon spill, according to internal documents released by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA released the documents late Friday following weeks of prodding from The Associated Press and other media organizations. While shedding some light on the circumstances surrounding the accident, the newly disclosed information also raises more questions about whether enough was done to prevent it.

A May 2015 action plan produced by an EPA contractor, Environmental Restoration LLC, also noted the potential for a blowout.

The May plan also called for a pond that would be used to manage the mine water and prevent contaminants from entering waterways. That pond was not completed.

A 71-page safety plan for the site included only a few lines describing what to do if there was a spill: Locate the source and stop the flow, begin containment and recovery of the spilled materials, and alert downstream drinking water systems as needed.

Note that the EPA has actually redacted parts of the documents as if there are national security issues at stake. They have also not revealed what happened immediately before and after the blowout or why they waited for over a day to let local governments know that their water was turning to poison.

I expect, in the end, no one will be held accountable. “Stuff happens” is the way of the Obama Administration, at least when it comes to their own people. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to get a lot worse for the EPA.

Comments are closed.

  1. AlexInCT

    BUT, BUT, BUT!

    Credentialed government employees could never, evah, evah, do wrong!

    Everyone knows that it is only evil korporashuns and their capitalist approach to everything that hurt poor Gaia.

    /tard off

    People should familiarize themselves with the ecological disasters caused by the many social justice nations that have blotched this planet’s surface. The USSR, Communist China, and so on all have  horrendous environmental records. That’s because unaccountable government plutocrats are in charge.

    BTW, it is people like these ones at the EPA which will also run your Obamacare.

    Yeah, nothing can go wrong there…

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  2. RonK

    you need to remember this administration has done everything it could to make the people suffer more than they had too, see BP oil spill, the sequester, and others.

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  3. Seattle Outcast

    The EPA, like the Federal Reserve, BATFE, and DOE are prime examples of everything wrong with government.  Even worse, it has been taken over by religious fundamentalists and actively cooperates with (and apparently recruits from)  fanatical organizations that promote various forms of extortion and eco-terrorism.

    There is no science left at the EPA, only zealotry.

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  4. richtaylor365

    I would like the disturbing trend of  historical common law precedent adhering to the doctrine of Sovereign Immunity summarily taken out behind the woodshed and shot. We are seeing this more and more within the LE community whereby officers guilty of gross negligence are going to prison. All public workers, especially those in charge making the decisions, should have this sword of Damocles hanging over their head. Getting  a job in the public sector should go beyond just scoring extorted union benefits, there is an obligation attached to serving the public and they should have recourse when wrongs are committed against them. The FTCA (Federal Tort Claims Act) was a good start, but that only secures monetary compensation.  No penalty attaches to the actual government employee that screwed up, this should change. And it goes beyond termination (if they would even do that). Lois Lerner should be in prison now, and if there is any truth to the stories I have been reading lately about Clinton’s unsecured server having a direct link to the Benghazi attack and the murder of 4 American, she should go as well.

    see BP oil spill, the sequester, and others

    I was for the sequester, how else are you going to gets these guys to quit spending money they don’t have?


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  5. Hal_10000 *

    I agree with your general point, Alex, but in this specific case, the EPA didn’t cause the initial problem. There are a lot of mines around that were carved out by businesses and left to fill with water.  The water becomes a toxic sludge and EPA’s job is to fix that shit.  They’ve mostly done well.

    I would file this under “accidents happen” (modulo some liability). Dealing with the shit is hard, especially for a mine that’s been closed for 90 years. My problem is that it looks like the EPA didn’t properly plan it and then hoped no one would notice.

    If there turns out be incompetence or cover-up, heads needs to roll.

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  6. AlexInCT

    I would file this under “accidents happen” (modulo some liability). 

    No private entity would be allowed to use that as a defense. Why should the EPA? Especially in an age where the statists tell us nobody but government can do what’s right & just.  My point is precisely that government entities are far more prone to cause these sorts of environmental calamities, but they are not held to the same standards as others. I want to see people at the EPA be forced to commit Seppuku and their lives be ruined just like the EPA would do to private entities for far, far less.

    My problem is that it looks like the EPA didn’t properly plan it and then hoped no one would notice.

    I think that was by design. In fact when they got called on it they tried to lie. As others pointed out, if this was an isolated incident and our government was not overrun with Gaia worshipping religious fanatics, most of us wouldn’t be happy but we would be tolerant. When an entity is replete with dickheads and lords its power over others like Nero on a bender, they should expect the fucking payback when they prove people like me right in our assertion government does far worse than any private entity could.

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  7. CM

    So what is the alternative here? A private company is paid to monitor and clean it up? By who? How does that private company make profits? Or is the initial problem not even a problem because who gives a shit?

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