This past August, the EPA caused a massive toxic spill that contaminated the Animas and San Juan Rivers. The toxins, which reached Utah, included cadmium, arsenic and other heavy metals. The EPA lied, covered it up, doctored documents, refused to release spill documents to Congress and they knew the mine could blow but didn’t have a backup plan nor did their actions make any sense. Much of that has become clear in a new scathing report.
The EPA knew a spill was possible for months before fouling rivers in three states with a 3 million gallon deluge.
The House Committee on Natural Resources released a Majority staff report detailing the events surrounding the EPA’s handling of the Gold King Mine Spill and the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior (DOI).
The report is 73 pages in length and blasts both departments for blatant lies and what is an ongoing cover up. It breaks down the deliberately conflicting accounts.
“Instead of seeking honest answers about how the blowout occurred, the EPA issued two intentionally misleading reports and used taxpayer dollars to fund a third deceptive report from the Department of the Interior,” the report concluded.
There have been three deceptive reports and numerous hearings over the past six months but “still no explanation for the EPA’s failure to conduct hydrostatic testing before excavating the Gold King Mine adit.”
The EPA has also failed to explain their erroneous conclusions about the locations of the adit floor and the drainage pipe.
The EPA knew their actions were “indefensible” yet they “almost immediately…rehired the contractors who were involved in the disaster to help address the mess.”
The report found that the EPA crew dug up to the plug without a clue as to what lay behind it. When they reached the plug they should have realized but still backfilled the excavation. They then prepared a berm in front of the excavation, a channel to its side, and began digging out the plug. They have not explained why they did this.
Instead, they’ve deliberately confused the situation. They said the EPA crew was digging high at the time of the blowout but photographs showed it was unlikely. There were no scaled drawings made available. There were numerous versions told which did not agree with initial reports.
The EPA selected the DOI as a so-called “independent reviewer”. The DOI turned around and “sought to hide the EPA’s embarrassing, incompetent, and possibly even negligent behavior.”
One of the more egregious things the DOI did was to try and vanish one of the EPA’s absurd conclusions that “the adit floor was 6 feet below the waste rock dump.” They then actually fabricated a replacement.
Their report avoided the EPA’s more significant decisions and actions.
The DOI’s “technical evaluation” was described by this report as “mind-numbingly bureaucratic”. It was also unenlightening. For example, the DOI concluded it was an “excavation induced failure” which meant “digging out of the plug.”
The DOI offered a possible scenario that wasn’t even possible since the EPA crew didn’t have the necessary equipment on site.
The DOI CONTINUES to obfuscate the facts.
The on-scene coordinator appears to have lied repeatedly and has made many questionable claims.
“Incompetent and dishonest” were the words used but where is the accountability? Who will be fired?
The state representatives and others affected are infuriated after seeing this report.
Click here to view the report.