What Lies Beneath: The True Cost Of The Colorado Mine Spill (Rodale’s Organic Life)

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At 10:51 a.m. on August 5, an EPA-contracted team evaluating the reclamation progress at Gold King Mine just north of Silverton, Colorado, noticed a “leak” from a 10-foot by 15-foot hole they’d inadvertently created while clearing rubble. A flume thick as orange juice and similar in color erupted from the mine into Cement Creek, its hue resulting from heavy metals, long-isolated underground, reacting with oxygen—a cocktail of lead, iron, zinc, manganese, cadmium, copper, aluminum, arsenic, and mercury, and many other toxic heavy metals.
As the contractors looked on in horror (an initial EPA video released to the public redacted one of the workmen asking, “What do we do now?”), 3 million gallons of metal-laden water surged at least 100 miles downstream into the Animas and San Juan Rivers—through tiny Silverton, Durango, down through Farmington New Mexico, the Southern Ute reservation, the Navajo Nation, and dangerously close to Lake Powell, a reservoir providing more than 20 million Americans with drinking water.

Read more at Rodale’s Organic Life.

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