A clean-up crew has accidentally released a million gallons of mine waste down a river in Colorado, turning its water bright yellow.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the team was working on Wednesday to secure an entrance to the Gold King Mine, near Durango, when the waste was accidentally released into Cement Creek.
Cement creek runs from Silverton, Colorado, into the Animas River, before flowing into the San Juan River in New Mexico and eventually into the Colorado River in Utah.
1. Kayakers in the polluted river near Durango, Colorado. The yellow waste spilled out into the water while a clean-up crew was trying to plug an entrance to a mine.
2. Dan Bender from the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office takes a sample of the contaminated water in Animas River.
3. The polluted water runs past a golf course. One million gallons of waste are making their way from the Animas River into the San Juan River in New Mexico and the Colorado River in Utah.
EPA officials say that the spill does not pose a threat to drinking water. Wildlife, however, is under threat because the river’s acidity has increased 100 times.
Animal owners were reportedly advised to keep their dogs and livestock out of the river.
EPA Spokesman Rich Mylott said:
The project was intended to pump and treat the water and reduce metals pollution flowing out of the mine.
4. Local cities have shut off supply intake pumps that take water from the Animas River. Officials say drinking water has not been affected.
5. Environmental officials in Colorado are testing the water to see exactly what it is filled with and the effect it is having on fish.
The clean-up crew evidently misjudged the amount of water held behind the mine’s collapsed entrance, according to The Durango Herald.
By the time the workers realized that they had miscalculated the amount of trapped contaminated water, “there was no stopping it at any time”.
The EPA said in a statement that the polluted water “was held behind unconsolidated debris near an abandoned mine portal”.
Fortunately, no workers were harmed in the incident.
6. Animas River is closed to public after EPA dumps one million gallons of waste.
Read more: The Durango Herald.
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