The catastrophic Gold King mine spill has led the Environmental Protection Agency to install a temporary water treatment system in an attempt to make the water safe for use.
According to The Durango Herald, the $1.8 million portable treatment facility will be located in Gladstone, beginning operation on Oct. 14 and continuing through the winter. In total, the current contract provides for 42 weeks of water treatment.
The Gold King Mine disaster occurred on Aug. 5 when a whopping three million gallons of orange sludge was inadvertently poured into the Animas River.
The incident was caused by an EPA-contracted team performing restoration work at the mine. They released the heavily-polluted water during excavation and the blowout quickly spiraled out of control.
Initial tests of the river’s water showed spikes in heavy metals, including lead, arsenic and cadmium.
There are already over 2,100 known contaminants present in normal tap water, so these additional hazardous chemicals being introduced into the water supply are only making things worse for Colorado residents.
According to the Tri-City Herald in Washington, the federal government will now be required to identify the most dangerous abandoned mines in the West and initiate plans to clean them under new legislation introduced in response to the Gold King mine spill.
Members of Congress held a series of hearings last week to address the concerns of those affected by the spill. Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye claims that Navajo farmers and ranchers were initially forced to cease all crop-watering and find other sources of water for their sheep and cattle.
While Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner are commending the EPA’s decision to install a temporary water treatment system, the politicians are seeking a permanent water treatment plant to ensure this type of disaster never happens again.
“We recognize that the EPA was attempting to address these issues when they triggered the blowout,” they wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
“However, as communities in Southwest Colorado look to move forward in the wake of this disaster, they need reassurance that the party responsible for the blowout now has a long-term plan to restore the watershed.”
EPA officials estimate the plant will cost $20,000 per week to operate, with another $53,200 in costs for demobilization and bonding.