Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper swallowed a “big gulp” from the Animas River to apparently prove that the situation has stabilized despite the massive wastewater spill there.
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency accidentally released three million gallons of toxic, orange sludge into the river when conducting an assessment of the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado.
The mine waste contains arsenic, lead, and other potentially harmful heavy metals.
Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah have declared a state of emergency as a result of the Gold King Mine disaster.
After being challenged by local media to put his water where his mouth was, as it were, Hickenlooper nonetheless first took the precaution of dropping an iodine tablet into the bottle to kill bacteria before he took a swig from the contaminated river water.
The governor subsequently told the Denver Post that the river is back to normal, a contention disagreed with by many environmentalists and lawmakers.
The river reopened for recreational use on Friday afternoon.
EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, who indicated that the agency is accepting full responsibility for what happened, also claimed that “[t]he very good news is that we see that this river is restoring itself.” She also said that the EPA is providing resources necessary to facilitate the cleanup.
This isn’t the first time that Gov. Hickenlooper ingested a questionable liquid.
“Hickenlooper, a Democrat, got attention in 2013 after saying he drank a form of fracking fluid to prove it was safe,” an ABC News affiliate reported.
— Sierra Club (@sierraclub) August 10, 2015
Apparently having some animus about the Animas River water drinking stunt, the top environmental official of neighboring New Mexico criticized Hickenlooper for grandstanding and, by extension, jeopardizing public health before all the data on the spill is in.
“If it’s true, it’s a reckless and irresponsible act by a public official. He might as well stick 15 cigarettes in his mouth and light them all at the same time and take a picture about how that’s good for you,” said the state’s Environmental Department Secretary Ryan Flynn.
Flynn’s boss, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, slammed the EPA for its lack of communication with its state and local counterparts about the Animas River spill and a possible double standard.
“This was caused by the EPA, and the EPA should demand the same of itself as it would of a private business responsible for such a spill, particularly when it comes to making information available to the public and state and local officials,” the Washington Times reported. “I hope the EPA will be more cooperative and forthcoming moving forward as we work to address this situation.”
[image via Twitter]