Toxic Water Still Leaking Into Colorado River

Other abandoned mines are now the issue, officials say
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2015 11:37 AM CDT
Toxic Water Still Leaking Into Colorado River
Officials with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality collect a water sample from the San Juan River in Utah, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, after a spill in the Animas River.   (AP Photo/Matt York)

The wastewater spill into Colorado's Animas River isn't just more severe than the Environmental Protection Agency initially estimated: It's steadily getting worse in terms of volume, even a week after the initial incident. Between 500 and 700 gallons of metal-laced water is still spilling from the abandoned Gold King Mine each minute—enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool per day, at least—though experts are treating the water in emergency settling ponds, the New York Times reports. The Denver Post reports another 540 to 740 gallons of acid drainage is flowing each minute from three adjacent mines, while many others are reportedly leaking.

The water is "loaded with dissolved metals…even though the river now looks clear," says the director of Colorado's abandoned mines reclamation program. "We had a disaster last week—a surging amount of water coming out. That same amount of water is coming out over six months and harming the Animas." He demands the EPA work to solve the problem. "We're working tirelessly to respond and have committed to a full review of exactly what happened to ensure it cannot happen again," an EPA rep says of the Gold King Mine leak. The Post reports state mining officials plan to deliver a map of 200 leaking mines to Gov. John Hickenlooper by tomorrow. (More Colorado stories.)

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