Update from The Denver Post at the end of the article.
The media continues to shift blame for the massive toxic spill on to locals even after the EPA has assumed all blame. Three mines adjacent to Gold King mine, the site of the original leak, are still leaking toxicants of more than 700,000 gallons per day. While the EPA is refusing to give details of the extent of contaminants in the water, various scientists have tested the water to find shocking levels of poisons in the water which is now heading for Lake Powell.
These are metals that sink to the bottom and can be upended easily. They don’t go away.
The only living scientist who played a major role in founding the EPA, Dr. Jay Lehr, is now calling for the EPA to go and has devised a plan to make that happen. Dr. Lehr advises those who fear we would not adequately protect the environment to consider the poor job the EPA is doing and meet some of the staff in state EPA offices. He said people won’t remain “doubters” for long.
Dr. Jay Lehr
The EPA has this past week caused a massive toxic spill in Colorado which has reached New Mexico and is heading for Utah. The plume of contamination includes arsenic, lead, copper, mercury, aluminum and cadmium.
Heavy metals sink to the bottom and become part of the sediment which can be kicked up into the water at any time. The EPA hasn’t released any detailed information from their testing.
“We’re busting our tails to get that out,” said Shaun McGrath, administrator for the EPA’s Region 8. “We know the importance to people to have this information.
“This is a long-term impact. The sediment, the metals that are in that sediment are going to settle out to the stream bottom,” he said. “As we have storm surges, as we have flooding events, that sediment can and likely will get kicked back up into the water. We’re going to have to do ongoing monitoring.”
This is a real mess,” said Max Costa, chair of the department of environmental medicine at New York University School of Medicine. “These levels are shocking.”
Exposure to high levels of these metals can cause an array of health problems from cancer to kidney disease to developmental problems in children, CNN reported.
“Oh my God! Look at the lead!” said Joseph Landolph, a toxicologist at the University of Southern California, pointing to a lead level in the Animas River nearly 12,000 times higher than the acceptable level set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
According to sampling done by the EPA on various points along the Animas River Wednesday and Thursday last week, levels of lead, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium and mercury were extremely high compared with acceptable levels set by the agency, which are technically called “maximum contaminant levels” or “action levels for treatment,” CNN reported Wednesday, one week after the spill.
Arsenic levels were more than 800 times higher than what is considered acceptable.
Cadmium is quickly sapped up by plants. The water in these affected rivers is used for drinking and for farm irrigation.
The Colorado Department of Public Health said Tuesday evening that the concentration of contaminants “continues to decrease” and the “department does not anticipate adverse health effects from incidental or limited exposure to metals detected in the water. You can believe that if you want. Let’s hope it’s true.
It could take years or decades for health problems to develop from this catastrophe and it is a catastrophe no matter how much the EPA plays it down.
The Navajo Nation is mourning and pleading for help as clean storage water is depleting in the Animas River and San Juan River.
Gina McCarthy said the agency’s slow response was out of caution. Imagine if a private company said that?
The Navajos say they are “weeping every day.”
The Durango Herald reports that contaminants are still leaking from the abandoned Gold King Mine. The Denver Post just reported Wednesday morning that three adjacent mines are still leaking more than 540 gallons per minute of waste laced with heavy metals in the Animas River headwaters.
The contaminated water is expected to arrive at Utah’s Lake Powell via the San Juan River sometime this week, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area issued an alert advising visitors not to “drink, fish, or swim” until further notice.
The Chicago Tribune continued the effort begun by MSNBC to switch the blame to locals who didn’t become part of the failed EPA Superfund program. ABC News is telling the same lie. It’s the talking point our government wants out in the public sphere.
The Tribune claimed locals feared the ‘stigma of a Superfund label’. They managed to find some big government locals who agreed but failed to name them.
The communities hope there will be a revival of the mining industry which the government has helped destroy. The Superfund would scare away all investment.
The toxic spill had nothing to do with becoming part of the Superfund. It was carelessness and incompetence that caused the spill. The spill is a reason to not get involved with the Superfund which is a big government monstrosity that kills business and controls the use of the land.
These false reports are meant to sway opinion and they do it without an ounce of fact.
Dr. Lehr, who helped write the Superfund Act, said the many acts he wrote worked well in protecting the environment and the health of Americans with the exception of Superfund.
Superfund proved to be too overreaching and wreaked havoc on U.S. businesses as “companies operating within the law were fined countless dollars and required to pay huge sums after the fact for clean-up of waste disposal that had been within the law at the time of the activity.”
While Republican Governor Martinez of New Mexico is demanding answers, assistance and restitution, Democrat Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado is pretending everything is back to normal with the EPA asking him to stop saying that it is when it isn’t.
Hickenlooper doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Even the EPA knows it. Businesses are shut down and health problems can show up decades from now and, before any significant information is in, Hickenlooper is saying “we might come out of this pretty well”.
He needs to go along with the EPA.
Dr. Lehr helped write the Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act), Safe Drinking Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Surface Mining and Reclamation Act, Clear Air Act, Federal Insecticide, Rodenticide, and Fungicide Act, and Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (now Superfund).
Dr. Lehr, Science, Director at the Heartland Institute speaking before Doctors for Disaster Preparedness conference in Ontario, California this month said that 15,000 employees based in Washington, D.C., and in regional offices around the country “do not do useful work whatsoever.”
His proposal for the elimination of the EPA would save the taxpayers $6.2 billion annually and improve environmental protection, he claims. The plan includes a five-year transition from a federal government bureaucracy to a Committee of the Whole comprised of the 50 state environmental protection agencies.
Bringing more local control would bring more accountability.
Dr. Lehr calls his plan “addition by subtraction” and believes his plan would be his penance for helping the EPA grow into the colossal waste it is today.
Unfortunately today, it is not just the EPA, but many other agencies whose unelected officials produce endless regulations, Lehr added. We have an “over-criminalization in this country” because of endless regulations people have no idea exist, rules that Americans “probably break at least once a week.” He continued, “There are now in the federal regulatory handbook, 200 volumes of 80,000 laws, and 300,000 regulations written by various agencies with the EPA number one offender.”
Lehr continued, “‘James Madison warned us in the Federalist papers that … ‘laws should be made by men of their own choosing. If the laws are so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood,’ then we have a serious problem.'”
Dr. Lehr believes that we are subjected today to so many laws that few people can keep track. “Big Business, Big Government, and Big Special Interests collude to make such laws” that give them advantage over the competition. “We have a warped economy,” Lehr said, “where the rich get richer, with the rest having less opportunity because the big three are gaming the system to gain political influence… They get privilege.”
Governor Scott Walker has already adopted Dr. Lehr’s plan.
EPA head Gina McCarthy is trying to now convince people that the river is back to normal, ignoring the fact that these toxins sink to the river bottom and become part of the sediment. She said Wednesday that water quality in La Plata County has “returned to pre-event conditions” after last week’s Gold King Mine wastewater spill.
The Colorado and New Mexico congressional delegations sent a letter to President Obama to request federal resources to help respond to the Gold King Mine spill. They also approach the idea of a water treatment plant in the Upper Animas River to remove heavy metals from the watershed at its source.
“This is truly a national disaster that requires the attention, coordinated efforts, and resources of multiple federal agencies,” the letter states.
“The communities we represent expect and deserve a prompt and thorough response to this disaster as well as transparency and accountability from the federal government,” it read.
“There also must be an improvement in the speed of water quality and sediment testing and in the dissemination of fully-interpreted results to the public. The EPA is conducting water and sediment sampling and analyses, but the interpreted results have not been made readily available to the public.”
The letter was signed by Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R) as well as Rep. Scott Tipton (R), along with New Mexico Democrats Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Luján.
McCarthy made no mention of the reported leaks from three surrounding mines.
The water in the Animas is now a greenish color but it can’t be fine.