The Animas River suffered a deluge of toxic wastewater on at the start of the month, when almost three million gallons of waste poured into the river from a nearby mine.
Local residents and environmentalists from around the country condemned the spill. After the Animas River turned a bright orange color, many thought that the beauty of the Animas River would be gone forever.
The states of Colorado and New Mexico declared the area a disaster scene. Large areas of both the Animas and the San Juan rivers suffered from the spill. The leaders of the Navajo Nation also declared a state of emergency when the waste travelled as far as Utah.
Although the orange color of the Animas River has already began to fade, especially in the farther reaches of the area, many people remain angry about the situation.
The accident happened when members of the EPA accidentally released almost three million gallons of waste from a mine near the city of Silverton, Colorado. The water contained a large concentration of heavy metals like arsenic and lead.
The EPA remains at the center of a disaster controversy. There have been calls from both state governments and the Navajo Nation to hold the federal agency accountable for the disaster at the Animas River.
Had a private organization been the cause of the spill, it is likely that there would be calls for legal action. Because the instigator is the government itself, state governments are not making hasty decisions.
Less affected states like Utah has suggested it will not be filing a suit for the damage to the Animas River. However, some suggest that the EPA should be held to the same standards as any other organization that has caused significant damage to the environment.
The EPA continues to downplay the damage. The organization suggests that the water has not been pristine for many years. The EPA has also stated that the metal levels in the water have now returned to the same levels they were at before the disaster.
While it is true that toxic water has been released into America’s rivers for over 100 years, the EPA’s statements have only provoked local residents.
There are few solutions to the problems caused by 19th and early 20th century mines. The mines that agencies are aware of are incredibly dangerous and suffered similar tragedies to the Animas River. There are also many mines that remain undiscovered.
Regardless of whoever pulled the trigger, casting blame will not solve the serious environmental threats posed to America’s fresh water from old and new mining practices.
[Photo By: Theo Stroomer/Getty Images News]