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Toxic sludge spilled from mine into Colorado river reaches New Mexico

he Animas River in August 2015, contaminated by the Gold King Mine in San Juan County. Photograph: La Planta County

The Animas River in August 2015, contaminated by the Gold King Mine in San Juan County. Photograph: La Planta County

A toxic and orange-brown sludge spilling from a shuttered gold mine into a south-western Colorado river has reached northern New Mexico.


San Juan County emergency management director Don Cooper said the plume arrived in the city of Aztec on Friday night and Farmington on Saturday morning. Officials in both cities shut down the river’s access to water treatment plants and said the communities had a 90-day supply of water and other water sources to draw from.

On Friday, San Juan County undersheriff Stephen Lowrance said: “It’s awful, it’s awful. It’s [a] horrible, horrible accident.

Of the water, Lowrance said: “You wouldn’t want to drink it – that’s for sure.”

About a million gallons of wastewater from Colorado’s Gold King Mine began spilling on Wednesday when a clean-up crew supervised by the Environmental Protection Agency accidentally breached a debris dam that had formed inside the mine.

No health hazard has been detected, but tests were being analysed. Federal officials said the spill contains heavy metals including lead and arsenic.


I was very interested to hear about the toxic spill from the King Gold mine in Colorado this week.
A million gallons of contaminated effluent spilled into a south western river in Colorado and has reached New Mexico. The mine was decommissioned in 1923, but when the EPA was working on the site to remediate the superfund site and stop a longtime flow of acidic, heavy metal laden wastewater from the nearby Red and Bonita mine, all near the abandoned Gladstone mining town they accidentally broke the dam wall. Tests of the waste water and sediment  showed substances known to be harmful to human health, including cyanide, lead, arsenic cadmium, copper and calcium at various levels and the water had risen significantly in acid content. The full impact of this spill is not yet known but people have been told to stay away from the water and under no circumstances to drink it.
I believe this news item should be of concern to all Majors Creek residents and especially all who live below the mine site. This is precisely what folks have been concerned about. The tailings remain toxic forever, and man made structures eventually give way and accidents happen from human error.

The mine is already approved to take the gold without cyanide processing. it is unnecessary and will only benefit the miner by increasing his profits. There are no real extra  benefits to the community and the risks involved by turning the present mine into a HAZARDOUS mine are outrageously high. There is no common sense in placing a hazardous mine IN a village at the head of a watercourse of such significance.
No-one is trying to stop the mine  which is already approved, only to stop the unnecessary Cyanide processing which was rejected from the beginning, because of the horrific danger it represents.


Fran Harrison (Majors Creek)

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