By Anne Cacherell
On August 5, Wednesday, a crew of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) workers accidentally released 3 million gallons of waste water into the Animas River from the abandoned Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colorado. The water is full of heavy metals and is carrying more than 300x times the safe levels of arsenic and 3500x the lead.
Officials closed the river, advised people to stay out of the water and warned them not to swim, drink, fish and even let the livestock drink it, until it’s cleaned up.
The toxic sludge contaminated the river through the San Juan National Forest in New Mexico to Utah’s Lake Powell and is expected to head towards Arizona and Grand Canyon.
EPA is currently monitoring the effects of the waste water on the ecosystem but hasn’t provided long-term health impacts on people, aquatic life and wildlife.
After assessing the damages, the governors of Colorado and New Mexico have declared states of emergency.
Officials are still finding ways to clean up the huge mess and rehabilitate the damaged ecosystem.
No reports have been released yet on what exactly led to the spill and who should be held accountable.
Toxic may dissipate in a few days but the long term-environmental damage of this disaster is certainly high. Do you have suggestions for the improvement of waste management to prevent accidents like this from happening? Share with us your thoughts.