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River: Animas River, Durango

Goodbye Animas, Nice to know you

Post By: Bigpimpin      Posted: 8/8/2015 11:05:07 AM     Points: 10    
I just want to say what a GREAT job the EPA has done to ruin this life blood of the south west! Way to go!

If it was a private spill, heads would roll and lawsuits abound, but its the EPA. They get a "hall pass" to destroy our lands at their discretion.

 Reply by: southcat king      Posted: 8/8/2015 11:34:07 AM     Points: 30
 Reply by: Pathway      Posted: 8/8/2015 1:14:03 PM     Points: 542
I'm no fan of EPA. In fact I think they should be replaced by a consortium of all of the state EPA's, but the nature is very resilient and the Animas will recover.
 Reply by: Jacob J      Posted: 8/8/2015 2:24:44 PM     Points: 1679
I am wondering how long will take complete recovery?
 Reply by: spicyhombre      Posted: 8/8/2015 2:42:59 PM     Points: 6182
What happened?
 Reply by: Ajax5240      Posted: 8/8/2015 2:44:41 PM     Points: 38011
Spicy [log in for link]
 Reply by: Little D      Posted: 8/8/2015 3:10:24 PM     Points: 554
It's a shame for sure. I'm moving down there Tuesday and I was looking forward to getting to fish the River this year. Hopefully it recovers soon!
 Reply by: Ajax5240      Posted: 8/8/2015 3:32:35 PM     Points: 38011
The article says that there was little to no fish life in that stretch of the river before the spill. Sounds like the biggest impact was the loss of irrigation water use. Still stinks!
 Reply by: Kev-o      Posted: 8/8/2015 3:38:41 PM     Points: 84004
Wow! That is most ungroovy.
 Reply by: Bigpimpin      Posted: 8/8/2015 3:51:56 PM     Points: 10
little to no fish in that stretch of river? Animas flows to the San Juan then to the Colorado at Lake Powell. Good thing there is "little to no fish" downstream.....
 Reply by: ultralightfanatic      Posted: 8/8/2015 4:29:26 PM     Points: 814
Heads are gonna roll. Or not. Shame
 Reply by: Bigpimpin      Posted: 8/8/2015 4:36:11 PM     Points: 10
Not trying to sound like some tree huggin, whistle blowing liberal. Just sucks staring at a neon yellow river!! Hope for the best, anticipate the worst..
 Reply by: NoNick      Posted: 8/8/2015 5:27:12 PM     Points: 88
"If it was a private spill, heads would roll and lawsuits abound, but its the EPA. They get a "hall pass" to destroy our lands at their discretion."

You got that right.. Let's just see how proactive the gubmint is with this. My guess is they'll be as proactive about it as they are in prosecuting Lois Lerner, etc. etc. etc...

Just saw the river on TV.. What a shame.
 Reply by: bardkin      Posted: 8/8/2015 8:40:07 PM     Points: 3907
I agree with an earlier post- it will come back one day. I dare say the spill wasn't nearly as bad as what the miners did to the Arkansas in the late 1800's but back then, Who Knew????
probably about 5 to 7 years for total recovery. 2 to 3 for a good start.

Anyway, it is a big loss, and hopefully we will all do better in the end. All of us- because everyone has some effect, even if it is only minor.
 Reply by: Luke the Dog      Posted: 8/8/2015 10:10:27 PM     Points: 37
The latest news stories are already glossing over the culpability of the EPA team that caused this...standard practice by our wonderful government and their cronies...
 Reply by: castandblast714      Posted: 8/9/2015 12:35:14 AM     Points: 581
I wonder what the Environmental Pollution Agency fines themselves for such a catastrophe....
 Reply by: Danny      Posted: 8/9/2015 2:47:07 AM     Points: 467
Not trying to sound like some tree huggin, whistle blowing liberal. Just sucks staring at a neon yellow river!! Hope for the best, anticipate the worst..

Or you can sound like an idiot "conservative" mental midget and not put the blame where it really lies..... the mining company. But I'm sure they paid their contributions to the man. Idiot right wingers mad at the EPA is like being mad at a paramedic who gives you CPR while you have a heart attck cause you eat nothing but bacon.
 Reply by: Jacob J      Posted: 8/9/2015 6:23:29 AM     Points: 1679
Is there a chemical reaction that can turn all those heavy and toxic metals into something less or non toxic? I am sure there is. Or maybe it still going to be devastating for the environment?
 Reply by: Targa      Posted: 8/9/2015 7:10:22 AM     Points: 3
^^^They are doubling the flow on the river to dilute the spill.
 Reply by: DALEHUNTER      Posted: 8/9/2015 7:41:46 AM     Points: 11
Same people that are suppose to protect, end up ruining it, do they answer to anybody?? Or is it brushed under the table like everything else around here.
 Reply by: Pathway      Posted: 8/9/2015 10:09:38 AM     Points: 542
Jacob: Once the cat is out of the bag nothing can be done. It can be treated while in place using extremophiles. Homestake mining is doing this treatment in the Black Hills to restore trout habitat.
 Reply by: RPG      Posted: 8/9/2015 3:45:51 PM     Points: 14413
Extremophiles defined:

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 Reply by: A10FLYR      Posted: 8/9/2015 5:40:59 PM     Points: 54
Looks like the Navaho nation is going to sue the EPA....
 Reply by: Luke the Dog      Posted: 8/9/2015 6:34:30 PM     Points: 37
"Not trying to sound like some tree huggin, whistle blowing liberal. Just sucks staring at a neon yellow river!! Hope for the best, anticipate the worst..

Or you can sound like an idiot "conservative" mental midget and not put the blame where it really lies..... the mining company. But I'm sure they paid their contributions to the man. Idiot right wingers mad at the EPA is like being mad at a paramedic who gives you CPR while you have a heart attck cause you eat nothing but bacon."

Spoken like a true tree-hugging, whistle-blowing liberal! To use your own analogy-this is more like 'during your heart attack, the paramedics show up drunk and crash the ambulance on the way to the hospital, killing everybody...'
 Reply by: skiman      Posted: 8/9/2015 8:31:49 PM     Points: 2825
Why is it every time a catastrophic event or unfortunate accident takes place it becomes a political issue? The facts is the river is polluted by this spill, and last I knew the contaminant was neither liberal or conservative. I think it best we stop throwing political stones and stay on topic.
 Reply by: brookieflyfisher      Posted: 8/9/2015 11:38:52 PM     Points: 6196
Yeah the EPA screwed up big time and should pay...

BUT that mine waste never should have been there in the first place. These mines get abandoned (illegally) and waste accrues (illegally) and no one wants responsibility. The company that caused all the damage is likely bankrupt or forces the EPA to take responsibility. The local communities don't want a superfund site nearby (because they need the Almighty Dollar from the Almighty Californian Tourist) so the EPA doesn't have access to the kinds of funds and staff they need to take care of the problem. The EPA asks the State for help and the state says it's the EPA's responsibility.

Pinning blame on the EPA is appropriate for the actual event that caused the spill, but let's not forget the many players (private enterprise, local, regional, and state govt) that gambled with our waterways. Plenty of blame to go around.
 Reply by: Jacob J      Posted: 8/10/2015 6:30:40 AM     Points: 1679
It looks like when everyone upstairs is busy finger-pointing, the problem is getting worse:

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 Reply by: LastKast2010      Posted: 8/10/2015 8:39:18 AM     Points: 4448
Just to let everyone know..... this morning the river is flowing almost clear, with just a little green tint to it. We are all aware that the heavy metals will linger in the silt bottom for years... BUT..... this river has had always had metals and such in it since the beginning of the mining times in Silverton. Not to say this was anything but a catastrophe.... but it will get back to normal in the near future. I will keep updating as I get new reports. I work for the City of Durango and we are having a meeting tomorrow morning to discuss where were at now, and how to proceed.

PS- The river is still officially......CLOSED!
 Reply by: NoNick      Posted: 8/10/2015 10:47:08 AM     Points: 88
Good to hear that it's at least clearing up visually.

I think everybody understands the fact that the unregulated mining that used to happen here in CO is the root cause of these problems. The issue with the EPA, at least for myself, is WILL the people who were responsible for this mess be fired and/or prosecuted? It seems to me that it takes the right hand of God himself to sign someone's walking papers when the screw up is done by a government employee. As an illustration of this, the "new" boss of the VA, same as the old boss, if you will, has fired ONE incompetent person so far. Are we supposed to believe that person is the ONLY incompetent one? Yea right..

If a private company was responsible for this disaster, there would be treehuggers out in the streets with pitchforks, and frankly, who could blame them. However, why can't they do the same when the GUBMINT is to blame for the current problem? All they do is make up excuses when the government DROPS THE BALL because it doesn't jibe with their views of the government being the be all, know all, end all, et al.
 Reply by: shiverfix      Posted: 8/10/2015 12:30:27 PM     Points: 3900
As a liberal, I'll respond. Comparing this to a company that knowingly pollutes or creates a situation that could cause massive pollution is apples to oranges. The EPA did not create this situation. However, a mistake did make a bad situation worse. I think there absolutely should be an investigation into how this happened, if for the very least to be able to apply this to future situations. Should someone lose their job? It depends on what is discovered. Were proper procedure followed?

A janitor is hired to clean a bathroom. In that bathroom he finds a toilet that is clogged with paper and excrement. In the process of inspecting the clog in an attempt to find the best way to unclog the toilet, the janitor accidentally overflows the toilet, causing water with excrement to flow out of the bathroom and onto carpet outside. Should the janitor be fired? Possibly, if he didn't follow proper procedure. Was it his fault that someone clogged the toilet and left a bunch of crap for someone else to clean up? No, and that person is ultimately to blame for the crap being on the carpet.
 Reply by: Ajax5240      Posted: 8/10/2015 12:40:41 PM     Points: 38011
^^^^ Well said!
 Reply by: sanjuangeni      Posted: 8/10/2015 2:53:10 PM     Points: 102
Ah, the problem with America these days,, We have gone from a "Just do it" to a "Who done it" , society. The fact is there is a problem that is going to take time, resources and human intervention to fix. Instead of concerning ourselfs with who is to blame, not one post has asked what can I do to help! There will be bills to pay, volunteers needed to help measure , clean up and retore in the future. Organizations like TU, FFOA, NWF. all need to get incolved along wiht hundreds of hours of volunteer work , who is stepping up instead of jumping on the blame wagon?
 Reply by: shiverfix      Posted: 8/10/2015 4:12:42 PM     Points: 3900
sanjuangeni, I agree with your post. Name calling and finger pointing don't do anything to help this situation or address how to keep this from happening in the future.

However, "blame" is actually very important here. And by blame I mean, what failing in the process caused this to happen? While the original blame is on the company that left the waste water ponds, there is no denying the EPA made a huge mistake. If it is a failing in the procedure on what to do while inspecting a site like this, the procedures need to be changed to avoid this in the future. There are other sites that have the potential for this kind of disaster. If the procedures are sound and it was an individual (or group) not following the procedures, then that is what needs to be addressed. What kind of redundancy and double checks can be implemented to avoid this kind of mistake?

 Reply by: Ajax5240      Posted: 8/10/2015 4:33:36 PM     Points: 38011
Looks like the fingerling trout that were put in a cage in the river before the plume hit are alive and healthy after 5 days in the river. A good sign!

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 Reply by: Chromie      Posted: 8/10/2015 4:46:34 PM     Points: 3
I like what Luke The Dog says. He is smart and uses big words like analogy. If I had finished elemental school I would know what that means. I just don't have enough people words to make it understand you the way it understands me.
 Reply by: Luke the Dog      Posted: 8/10/2015 5:33:59 PM     Points: 37
Thanks Chromie, I might have used bigger words if Danny had found a way to blame Bush for it as well! But I digress, the good news is that the Animas is not showing to be much more impacted than it already was...but I may wait to hear from more biologists down the road before I believe that.
 Reply by: Pathway      Posted: 8/10/2015 6:51:34 PM     Points: 542
I think I read that the mine closed in 1923, so the company probably went away at the same time. In 23 I'm sure that had no idea what environmental problems they were causing. Also, areas like the San Juans and Leadville naturally leaked heavy metals into the water long before anyone came along with at pick and shovel. The Carter Cutthroat is one that is in the Leadvillle area and is tolerant to heavy metals.
 Reply by: setzdahook      Posted: 8/11/2015 1:49:50 PM     Points: 67
Wait until the Climax mine super fund site gives way. When that happens, it wont be the mine company's fault. It will be the the government's fault if there is a Democrat in office, and if there is a Republican, it will have happened because some liberal wanted to clean it up in the first place. Then there will be congressional legislation enacted that will assure such a clean up will never happen again, thus ensuring that a disaster such as this won't take place, because the waste will not be collected in holding ponds meant to keep it out of the river, which of course assures the health of the river, because the toxins will be released continually instead of all at once, and the financial integrity of the mining companies of the future will be unaffected, allowing them to contribute to a healthyeconomy, which is the cornerstone of a healthy environment.
 Reply by: LastKast2010      Posted: 8/11/2015 3:36:53 PM     Points: 4448
ok.. another local update...
The river is pretty much back to normal color this time of year. There are still lots of testing being done up and down the river and I understand that the PH levels are also back to normal levels. That being said... the heavy metal levels are still above normal and there is a lot of discussion of what to do about that... More to come on this.....

Side note... there are about 20 EPA cars and trucks all over Durango and throughout the pass to Silverton. Also a lot of CDPHE personnel in town as well. Pretty weird to see so many official cars in our small town. Good news is... the river has seemed to survived pretty well. It is true only one fish died in the numerous cages set to test the that's a very good sign.

The river is still closed per the local Sheriff's dept. until further notice...
 Reply by: yard dogs      Posted: 8/11/2015 4:01:52 PM     Points: 745
Thanks for the updates man. That orange river sure was crazy lookin....
 Reply by: Wmdunker      Posted: 8/11/2015 6:34:04 PM     Points: 474
I toured this mine in the early 70's on a geology class field trip. It is part of a group of mines in the Eureka District southeast of Silverton. It has operated on and off for over a 100 years. Below is some info from MINDAT website. You will notice that at one time they breached a surface water lake from underneath which then blew out of the main tunnel and into Cement Creek and the Animas River. It would be difficult now to go back and pin the mine waste on any one individual or corporation given the history. That is part of the reason that huge reclamation bonds are now required to do mining, and even then there is no guarantee that the reclamation can provide a final solution. There are many of these kinds of sites in former mining districts in Colorado and they will continue to present challenges for environmental cleanup for quite some time.

This mine worked veins associated with the Eureka graben. Started in the late 1880's and closed 1930. Reopened 1937 and closed 1938. Worked 1959 through 1985 (1960's - worked the Washington vein) via the American tunnel at Gladstone. On June 4th, 1978 (fortunately a Sunday) the bottom of Lake Emma collapsed into the upper mine workings sending a slurry of mud and debris through most of the workings. Production resumed after about 2 years of rehabilitation and the operation stumbled on through poor economic times until early in 1985. Worked 1985 until recently by Sunnyside Gold Corp., subsidiary of Echo Bay Mines, Ltd. Workings include the Terry shaft and the famous American Tunnel, often attributed to being its own mine. Produced over $150,000,000 in all metals mined. Past owners include: R.J. McNutt M.M. Engleman& L.C. Thompson L.C. Thompson & Frank Thompson Judge John H. Terry (1900-1910) 2 sons & daughter of Judge Terry (1910-1917) United States Smelting & Refining Co. (1917- ) Standard Uranium (which formed Standard Metals Corp.)(lessee)(1959-1985). Finally closed in 1991.
 Reply by: Chromie      Posted: 8/11/2015 7:36:47 PM     Points: 3
Thanks Wormdunker. Very interesting. As bad as these situations are, it could be much worse. Imagine living in Russia or China, or in most of the countries in Africa or the Middle East. Events like these are the norm. Pollution of the air, water, and soil is horrible there. One thing for sure...tree hugging, whistle blowing liberals are not tolerated there. God Bless America.
 Reply by: Pathway      Posted: 8/12/2015 10:29:23 AM     Points: 542
Thanks for that info David. I remember picking rocks off of the tailings pile at that mine but I think I toured Camp Bird, which was really fun.
Fortunatly, modern mining is much more responsible and has learned from the mistakes of the past.
 Reply by: fishMA      Posted: 8/12/2015 11:11:17 AM     Points: 111
This looks pretty bad for the EPA...

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 Reply by: Ajax5240      Posted: 8/12/2015 11:37:10 AM     Points: 38011
This may stir the pot more than intended, but what the heck...

I am starting to think this story shares a lot with Cecil the lion.. Many of the stories I have read discuss the fact that the river was laden with these elements before the spill, and has been for close to 100 years. But very few people gave a hoot about it till the news started covering the story.

Not saying that this isn't an issue, and that there may not be more to it than we know, just that some people get all worked up only because their news channel of choice tells them they should.
 Reply by: Abel1      Posted: 8/12/2015 11:44:24 AM     Points: 206
After reading the comment from Ajax what about the little creek that flows between the casinos and the highway in Black Hawk? Doesn't it flow into Clear Creek down at the stoplight? Seems to me that creek has the same color at the bottom as this one and the color looks a lot like this one from time to time as well. Maybe its not as harmful but I don't think I would eat anything from it. Take a ride up the elevator at Mardi Gras sometime and take a look. See what you think. Would you eat anything out of Clear Creek or down river from it?
 Reply by: fishscale      Posted: 8/12/2015 11:46:24 AM     Points: 443
The thing that really bothers me here are the "normal" levels of these pollutants. This river has been deteriorating for some time now, and "normal" levels are not healthy levels. There are so many more people that rely on this river than the residents of San Juan county, but they seem to carry enough weight to keep the abandoned mine(s) from getting cleaned up for good. It's a shame.

I was down on the river this morning and saw many small schools of recently hatched fish <1" going about their business as normal, which is a good sign.
 Reply by: DakotaWoody      Posted: 8/12/2015 9:31:48 PM     Points: 76
The ones that are telling us everything is OK (EPA) are the same ones that caused the catastrophy. It's okay, though. You can believe anything the guvment tells you.

Also, by the way, Clear Creek is the "pure Rocky Mountain spring water" that Coors is made from.
 Reply by: NoNick      Posted: 8/12/2015 10:08:18 PM     Points: 88
There's a new game being played in Durango tonight. It's called "Let's see who'll drink the water first". Turn on the faucet, roll the dice, and let your young kids drink the water. The government says it's ok, so what do you have to lose? Do you trust your kid's long term and short term health to the competency of government officials, or would you rather stick to the bottled water for awhile to be safe? The fact that people are still running out and getting bottled water speaks volumes, IMHO. It's been a WEEK.

I'm glad it's getting back to normal or whatever normal is for the Animas. However, those who caused this accident need to be held accountable for their actions. If our federal, local, and state governments won't do it, I guess the Navajo Nation will have to be the ones. The downside is the lawsuit they will more than likely win will be paid by you know who.
 Reply by: Ajax5240      Posted: 8/12/2015 11:31:59 PM     Points: 38011
Nick, I'd surely own one of these..

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 Reply by: Walleye Guy      Posted: 8/13/2015 7:05:52 AM     Points: 216
 Reply by: LastKast2010      Posted: 8/13/2015 7:53:25 AM     Points: 4448
There was a 30 water supply of already city processed water. No issues at all with drinking the city water... just so your not spreading inaccurate information.
 Reply by: NoNick      Posted: 8/13/2015 9:17:44 AM     Points: 88
My point was that if the government tells you to jump off a bridge because it's safe, would you still do it? If I lived in the area, I would wait a while to drink the water, but that's just me. I just don't trust the government enough when theres a relatively inexpensive alternative out there. Those filters work pretty good, but I'd still be leery only one WEEK after the spill..

IIRC, there was a water pollution issue north of Denver a few years ago where "they" said first you can drink it, now you can't drink it, then you could drink it again, etc. Heck, look at Burlington. People were essentially drinking water that wasn't safe for everyone without even knowing it. The town's been fined $1,000,000.

I guess the first one was the Gov, and he went in feet first by drinking the water out of the actual RIVER...

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I'm glad this does seem to be resolving itself quickly. It's a multipronged problem, and I will continute to hope that those responsible for the mistake of causing this problem are truly held accountable for their actions. If it was the private sector, you sure know they would be. Small mistakes are one thing, causing a potential disaster is another.
 Reply by: Walleye Guy      Posted: 8/13/2015 9:38:48 AM     Points: 216
The mine was private sector.....why didn't they take care of it? Why aren't they taking care of all the rest of the Super Fund Sites?
 Reply by: NoNick      Posted: 8/13/2015 9:53:48 AM     Points: 88
I was referring to my earlier post. If you work in the private sector and cause a potential catastrophe, do you think you're going to keep your job? Why shouldn't employees paid with tax payer's money be just as accountable?

Some of those mines were abandoned in the 1800's. How do you hold them to task? You'll never get rid of it all. If it's held this long, why press your luck and cause a worse problem.
 Reply by: nicrfisher      Posted: 8/13/2015 10:01:03 AM     Points: 94
Letter posted in the silverton paper just days before the spill

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 Reply by: NoNick      Posted: 8/13/2015 10:07:12 AM     Points: 88
As an addendum to my prior post, and more or less in reference to the above post...That guy who wrote into the Silverton paper seemed right on the money with his predictions!

Unless it's an imminent threat, mitigating these problems is governmental busy work IMHO. The spill in the Animas proves it. A WEEK ago, 3 million gallons of mining sludge and crap were spilled into the river. One WEEK later, residents of Durango and surrounding areas are encouraged to drink the water by governmental officials. As I posted, the Governor showed us all how smart he is by drinking water out of the Animas. Seems to me since it's all supposedly safe so soon after it happened, the threat of this sort of problem was overblown to begin with.
 Reply by: StillwaterFishCatcher      Posted: 8/15/2015 10:25:02 AM     Points: 110
I fish the Animas multiple times a week during the summer months and not to downplay the situation, but mining pollution has been leaching into the river for years. The only reason this spill is on national news is because it was caused by the EPA and it turned the river orange. I'm not even sure that this is the worst spill that has occurred on the river. This year, before the spill, I've seen numerous brown trout in the 20-32 inch range (no joke), as well as tons of protected (at least on the Ute water) flannelmouth suckers floating dead down the river and the fishery has still thrived. In a way, as an angler, I'm glad of the publicity of this spill, but it will bring the attention to the animas that it deserves. It is a truly special place. Sorry if I'm repeating or contradicting what is in this post I've been on vacation all week and only skimmed through it.

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