Thought Piece by Stephen Heins


 [I wrote the following piece, “Do the Colorado Toxic Spills Foretell Nightmares for the EPA?”, after attending the Senate Hearing and House hearings last September about the Animas Toxic Accident in Colorado. I couldn’t help noticing that the EPA’s Janet McCabe (director of the Clean Power Plan) used the same strategy last week as Gina McCarthy did last year. McCarthy and McCabe both choose to give a statement and answer questions from the House Committee without any interaction with the other very knowledgeable panelists or experts.

If offered an opportunity, I would have asked Janet about the EPA’s role in the aftermath of the Colorado Toxic Spills, CO, Pebble Mine, AK, Flint, MI, Dimrock, PA, What’s Upstream ad campaign, EPA’s activity after Supreme Court Stay, use of Thunderclap activism campaign on social media, Clean Power Plan’s real authors and contributions, full disclosure of all EPA funding and consulting relationships with the public sector, fiduciary ties with environmental groups and universities and the real (undiluted by indirect health benefits) costs of Clean Power Plan.”

Equally important, I would ask Gina McCarthy and Janet McCabe whether the EPA’s record for Colorado toxic spills and their slow notification of the spills qualifies them to administer the Clean Water Act of 2015?



EPA spills again in Colorado

By John Siciliano • 8/26/16 12:00 PM

John Siciliano Energy and Environment Correspondent The Washington Examiner

The Environmental Protection is admitting to a spill from a treatment plant it set up after it dumped 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater into a Colorado river last year.

The EPA said Thursday night that the spill happened on Tuesday, and officials are still attempting to determine how much and what metals were contained in the sludgy discharge, according to the Associated Press.

The spill occurred near the site of last year’s spill at the abandoned Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colo., where agency contractors didn’t adequately check the mine’s pressure before attempting to open it up after several years of being idle. The result was a massive mine blowout that sent 3 million gallons of metal-tainted water into the waterways of three states.

The Navajo Nation sued the agency over the spill last week after the EPA inspector general and the Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into the incident a few days before the Aug. 5 anniversary of the 2015 spill. The Navajo argue in their lawsuit that the spill significantly harmed the tribe’s primary source of revenue from crops and other agricultural products.

Local officials said this week’s release was not large enough to warrant a public advisory.

Last year’s spill sent nearly 1 million pounds of metals into the waterways of the Animas and San Juan rivers, which traverse three states. The metals include arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc.

This week’s spill came from the treatment plant that the EPA set up near the mine to filter water coming from the mine before releasing it into the creek and river systems. A large amount of rain in Colorado caused the treatment facility to overflow and some of the untreated water to spill into the waterways.

EPA said the water that spilled from he plant was partially treated, and the metals present in it should quickly settle to the bottom of waterways where they are less harmful.