Animas River Toxic Spill Estimates Tripled

Animas River
Photo: Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

Durango, CO — Last week the Environmental Protection Agency reported that one million gallons of toxic sludge from an abandoned gold mine had been accidentally released into Colorado’s Animas River by a crew from the EPA. The agency now says the spill is likely closer to 3 million gallons.

According to reports from the Durango Herald, the EPA was trying to pump and filter toxic wastewater left over from decades of mining at the King Gold Mine when the accident occurred.

Early samples have shown hazardous levels of heavy metals in the Animas, including zinc, copper and manganese. The city of Durango and La Plata County have declared a state of emergency and the EPA has closed waterways from Silverton to Lake Powell.

A freestone fishery well populated with rainbow, brown, Colorado River cutthroat, and brook trout, the Animas River is also a major white water rafting attraction accounting for 8.9 per cent of Colorado’s commercial rafting market while annually generating 45,411 commercial user days and direct expenditures of over $5 million.

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