Totally OT

In case someone has not seen this yet...
For those that like laws to protect the environment it seems that common sense could have prevented this. But then the government and its affiliations don't have a lot of that. The the EPA has stabbed us in the the back, again.
http://uverse.com/uv/watch/h___60601644
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Leon wrote:

Imagine the fine imposed if you had done this. Do you recon they will fine themselves? A raise is more likely.
--
GW Ross

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It's a big EPA f'up, but not quite in the way you're thinking.
For background, what happens naturally is water from snow melt or rain sinks into cracks in the rock, dissolves minerals, and eventually comes out somewhere lower down. This is why many streams in Colorado have arsenic and other heavy metals in concentrations over the EPA limit, completely naturally (think of that next time you're drinking your Coors made with "Rocky Mountain fresh water").
It's worse when there's a mine, because there's a lot of broken rock surface, and exposure to air makes the minerals more dissolvable.
So for the past 100 years or so, water has been seeping into the mines, dissolving arsenic, etc, and flowing out into the creeks. And while that's not a great thing, it also wasn't that big of a problem, because the water flow wasn't that great, so everything got diluted pretty quickly, and a lot of the bad stuff precipitated out fairly close to the mines anyway.
Then the EPA showed up in the 1980s and decided this was a crisis, and they had to do something about it. Since they couldn't stop water seeping into the mountain (altho I'm sure someone considered covering the whole thing in fibreglass), they decided to stop it coming out. So they've been going around putting plugs in mine tunnels, and just letting them fill up with water. The obvious problem there is, eventually the water is going to find a way out. In this case, because the EPA accidently broke their own plug, but in other cases natural forces will, sooner or later, make an opening.
It's that kind of dubious thinking (and haphazard execution) that's led several Colorado communities, such as Leadville, to sue to prevent the EPA designating a Superfund site and doing "cleanup".
(this is the second time Cement Creek has been flooded with mine water, incidently. In the late 60's miners in the Sunnyside mine accidently drilled upwards into the bottom of Lake Emma, which then drained out thru the mine).
John
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On 8/10/2015 6:41 PM, John McCoy wrote:

Well, your post certainly clears things up. Nature = bad EPA = good
EPA mandates can fix nature.
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On 8/11/2015 8:56 AM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

While arsenic happens naturally, this situation was not a natural incident. Released from probably a "gold" mining site. Arsenic is a key ingredient to extracting gold from rock removed from gold mines.

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"(August 7, 2015) \u2014 On August 5, 2015, EPA was conducting an investigation of the Gold King Mine. The intent of the investigation was to assess the on-going water releases from the mine and to treat mine water and to assess the feasibility of further mine remediation. The plan was to excavate the loose material that had collapsed into the cave entry back to the timbering. During the excavation, the loose material gave way, opening the adit (mine tunnel) and spilling the water stored behind the collapsed material into Cement Creek, a tributary of the Animas River."
Shit happens. The EPA is still necessary, even if they did fuck up in this case. Don't throw the baby away with the contaminated water; the clean water and clean air acts have saved more lives than anyone here can count.
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No probably about it, it came out of a gold mine (to wit, the "Gold King" mine).

You're thinking of mercury(*). Arsenic has nothing to do with extracting gold from ore.
What's actually going on is, rock that contains gold commonly also contains pyrites (fool's gold) and arsenopyrites. Both decompose in the presense of air. The iron in the pyrites is what gives the mine drainage it's yellow color - it looks ugly but is relatively harmless. The arsenopyrites are the source of the arsenic. Both of them are also sources of sulfur, which is why the mine drainage is acidic.
Now, the key point here is still that, if the water is allowed to slowly flow out of the mine, as was the case for over 100 years, there's no major problem. The problem was caused by the EPA bottling up millions of gallons of water in the mine, and then dumping it all out in one gush.
John
(* or possibly you're thinking of cyanide. The Gold King mine long predates the use of cyanide in gold extraction)
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On 8/11/2015 2:38 PM, John McCoy wrote:

I like their contention theres no harm to the wells or drinking water (many pull right from the river), but don't swim in it...
REALLY!!! you can drink it but not swim in it??? WTF.
--
Jeff

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On 8/11/2015 2:45 PM, woodchucker wrote:

That study group was concentrating on the effect of topical exposure vs. internal exposure. ;~)
Studying both possible side effects was above their pay grade.
Or considering the study of one over the other, we only check one, the other's "not my job".
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On 8/11/2015 1:38 PM, John McCoy wrote:

Well you probably absolutely know more of this process than I do but several years ago my wife and I went on a gold mine tour and I distinctly recall lots of arsenic in the leaching process. There were large arsenic pools.
Heavier concentrations than what show up naturally because of the mining processes.
Either way the EPA dumped a very concentrated accumulation of arsenic in to the river.
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Yes. In areas with "refractory" ores (which is the case in most of Colorado) arsenopyrites usually occur with the gold. As a side effect of freeing the gold from the ore the arsenic is also freed. If there was any way to avoid doing that, they would, since dealing with pyrites of any kind makes the process much more difficult.
In the current situation, tho, the arsenic is coming from the natural decomposition of the arsenopyrites when exposed to air.

Which, of course, is my point. They made a not very bad situation, the slow flow of mine water which had been going on for 100 years, much much worse by damming it up and then releasing it all at once.
John
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On 8/12/2015 11:16 AM, John McCoy wrote:

I think any amount of common sense would have indicated to haul the waste off rather than let it flow where it will.
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Arsenic is also natural to volcanic areas. e.g. Where the gold came from. Common in the western mountains.
Martin
On 8/11/2015 11:22 AM, Leon wrote:

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One thing - no medical statement.
Lead enters the body - screws up the brain and stores in the fat. Arsenic - rat poison, people poison.
Ah just add water and make it dilute.
Lets add water to their paychecks and dilute them.
No one on the project had an idea this might happen ? EPA sealed the mines and their workers popped the corks with the intention of pumping it out. Not even planned.
Martin
On 8/11/2015 8:56 AM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

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Well, everyone's probably tired of this subject, but I read today that the owner of the Gold King mine beleives the water in his mine is coming from the Sunnyside mine. The EPA plugged the Sunnyside back in the late 90's or early 00's (I remember talking to the workmen doing it, but don't recall which year it was). So evidently the Sunnyside has filled up enough that the water is finding a way out.
John
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On the video, there were control gates that might have been turned off. What did the EPA do when the deed was done ....
martin
On 8/10/2015 3:32 PM, Leon wrote:

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Not sure where the sluice gate shown in the video was, but there are no control gates on Cement Creek or the upper reaches of the Animas River. It's possible the gate was at the mine itself, in which case it probably has not been in working order for 50 years or more.
About a dozen years ago I actually looked into buying a gold mine not too far from there (on the other side of the divide, where creeks ultimately drain into the Gunnison river). I gave over on the idea because, if the EPA can track down the owner of a mine, they can make them pay the costs of any "enviromental remediation" they deem necessary.
John
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