An EPA crew inspecting the Gold King mine near Silverton, Colorado, released at over three million gallons of water laden with toxic heavy metals, including zinc, iron, copper, lead and arsenic among other heavy metals into the Animas River on August 5. High levels of these metals can cause all sorts of health problems from cancer to kidney disease to developmental problems in children.
Interestingly, a letter to the editor published in ‘The Silverton Standard and The Miner,’ on July 30, 2015 predicted the ‘accident.’ Authored by retired geologist Dave Taylor a week before the EPA’s mining mishap, it warned of an EPA “Superfund blitzkrieg.”
Taylor’s letter described how EPA officials would pollute the river on purpose so they could secure Superfund money. He also explained how the fouled-water would be released because of the buildup of too much pressure by the EPA’s plugging of the mine.
The EPA quickly admitted they misjudged the pressure in the gold mine – just as the editorial predicted. Under the scenario described, Taylor claimed the EPA would need instant funding to build a treatment plant for the clean up process.
EPA regional administrator Shaun McGrath claimed, “This was not intentional, obviously. The EPA was out doing this work to try to address what is an ongoing problem. In terms of why it happened, we are doing a complete look back at that to try an understand it.”
McGrath promised to hold people accountable in the same way the EPA would respond to a similar disaster caused by anyone else. But so far, no one’s been fired or disciplined.
The agency has pushed for nearly 25 years, to apply its Superfund program to the Gold King mine. If declared a Superfund site, this would end all future mining development in the area.
Though President Obama’s EPA opposes all mining in the U.S., the idea that this could’ve been on purpose is too awful to contemplate – but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.