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.
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
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
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
(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).
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
"(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
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
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.
(* or possibly you're thinking of cyanide. The Gold King
mine long predates the use of cyanide in gold extraction)
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".
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
Either way the EPA dumped a very concentrated accumulation of arsenic in
to the river.
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
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.
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.
On 8/11/2015 8:56 AM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:
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.
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.
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