|Oscar Wildcat |
Aim high, EPA, and keep reaching for these five stars.
|Rodents of Unusual Size |
I can deal with pretty much any news story for the most part without losing it, but this and Deepwater Horizon bring out an unbelievable depression in me, and I am horrified more than I can say. We are killing this planet.
I didn't sleep last night after finding out about this. Maybe a few hours, but I literally was so upset I couldn't think of anything else.
This really looks worse than it is, its a winters worth of acid mine drainage but it is not something exactly new to the environment there. That area is home to a lot of old underground mines and they were working on much needed remediation and treatment of the natural drainage coming from the old tunnels, which has been going on mostly unnoticed by the larger community for 100 years. There isn't a lot of danger to fish populations because there simply isn't any to start with. It is a lot all at once, but by its nature it settles out pretty quick, maybe the attention will get them some more funding to actually accomplish some meaningful reclamation of the area faster then they were planning initially. This is nowhere near the impact of a massive oil spill or chemical dump.
The EPA fucks up sometimes, but don't worry, there's 20,000 giant holes in colorado from mining that are seeping deadly chemicals 24-7.
Infrastructure and cleanup projects are not without risk. Most of the fish were dead in this river to begin with anyway.
Also, when the EPA (or NOAA, or Army Corps of Engineers, etc.) do something right, it doesn't make the front page news, it's just taken for granted.
There are a bajillion brownfield rejuvenation success stories under the EPA's belt, entire ghettos of poisonous post-industrial wasteland have been revitalized, but people just shrug that shit off. Every single dollar to rejuvenate something is fought for, with each new GOP administration holding the EPA hostage and gutting their leadership, which in turn makes it more difficult to execute long term strategies and cleanup goals.
We are not killing this planet, we can't. The planet will still be here if we blew up every nuke we ever had.
We're just killing a whole lot of animals and ourselves.
The Gold King is not a uranium mine, the adjacent Sunnyside mine was operated by Standard Uranium for a short time until it was flooded by Lake Emma, but most of its life it was also a gold and silver mine. Sunnyside should also be still sealed off and flooded last I heard. There are significantly more ores of copper, zinc, lead and arsenic in situ, in addition to the primary gold and silver ones (pyrite, chalcopyrite, sphalerite, galena, and tetrahedrite). In all my records I have no indication of any uranium ores being produced from the Gold King (not to say there isn't some amounts present, but find a place in the west that doesn't have at least trace amounts). This is like people in LA being terrified of Fukushima in their seared tuna and not mercury.
Groundwater has been draining from these and thousands of other mines since they were started in the halcyon days of no environmental laws. This event was a single winters worth of backed up water, that only backed up as they backfilled the portal as they have been working on the drainage remediation in this area for some time (the portal is at over 11,000 feet of elevation, access is usually not available over the winter months). I don't know the details of why the water backed up, if they had drainage in place that got plugged up or if they miscalculated how much water would be backed up over the interim. That portal had been collapsed for some time in the last decade (with water still flowing out), if they were working there they likely had opened it up and probably wanted to cut off any access while they were gone for the season. That part was definitely their error. But that amount of water is the same amount of water that is always discharging from the area and would have flowed into the Animas unnoticed anyway, as runoff and groundwater seepage has been doing for decades (the characteristic orange acid mine drainage settles out it a relatively short distance at lower flow levels). That's why the EPA is working on this and other sites in the first place. Just in this case it was held back and came down all at once.
And remember there is nothing leaked that wasn't present already, this isn't runoff from a chemical plant or a heap leaching operation. The sulfide mineralization present here, and in many other areas of Colorado especially, naturally form very acidic water (ph of around 2), and the acid can mobilize metals out of the rock. This happens all the time in much smaller amounts with rainwater and erosion over eons, mining just radically increases the surface area of rock exposed to moisture and air in a short amount of time. Orange sludge around old mine portals is a typical sight- https://www.flickr.com/photos/rocbolt/3395840319/in/album-72157616 004133719/
The Gold King property has been a Designated Mining Operation since 1994 as a result of the acid drainage from the mine portal, after the laws were updated after the Summitville incident (wherein a faulty leach pad liner resulted in off site flow of sodium cyanide and various acidic compounds that naturally are generated by the local rock type). DMO is a specialized permit process for properties that have contaminated outflow issues. Its been on the map for a while.
I'm not trying to argue that acid mine drainage is no big deal, but anyone making government bashing clickbait out of this has missed how ongoing and widespread (but usually unspectacular) a problem that it really is.
so long boy you can take my place
got my papers, i got my pay
More like Environmental DEfection Agency, am i rite?
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