Redacted documents released on Friday from the Environmental Protection Agency show that the environmental group knew that the potential existed for the toxic disaster that polluted waterways in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico on August 5. An excerpt from the report, dated June 2014, shows what the Environmental Protection Agency knew.
“This condition has likely caused impounding of water behind the collapse. Conditions may exist that could result in a blowout of the blockages and cause a release of large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine, which contain concentrated heavy metals.”
Even though the Environmental Protection Agency knew what could happen, they never came up with a solid plan to deal with the ecological disaster. Spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency Melissa Harrison was not able to give an answer in regard to what the plan was in the event a “blowout” of toxic material escaped from the mine and into the Colorado River. Only a couple of sentences from the 71-page plan for the site talk about what to do in case of a disaster.
Multiple investigations are ongoing in order to determine how the Environmental Protection Agency triggered the release of over 3 million gallons of wastewater that contained heavy metals considered dangerous to the plant and animal life in the water. According to the EPA, the tests they have done show the contamination levels in the water are at levels consistent with the readings prior to the environmental spill. Experts believe that the heavy metals likely have already settled to the bottom of the waterways and could easily be stirred back up.
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is suspicious of the “late Friday night document dump,” and thinks the redacted document will only fuel the suspicion surrounding the ecological disaster caused by the Environmental Protection Agency. Coffman also posted a statement on her Facebook account.
“These documents fly in the face of (EPA Administrator Gina) McCarthy’s statements accepting full responsibility.”
Melissa Harrison states that the Environmental Protection Agency has been getting lots of pressure from the media about releasing information on the spill. Harrison claims that gathering all the material took time and needed to be reviewed by a legal team before anything could be released.
“I do not want people to think we put something out late at night to hide something.”
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, chair of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, has called for Gina McCarthy to appear before his committee next month and explain to them what happened on August 5. Smith says that the Environmental Protection Agency “has an obligation to be more forthcoming.”
Was the Environmental Protection Agency negligent? What do you think has been redacted in their documents relating to the toxic spill?
[Image via Denver.cbslocal.com]