#AnimasRiver: No fish die-off from #GoldKingMine spill

A “get well soon” balloon floats in the contaminated waters of the Animas River flowing through Durango on Monday afternoon August 10, 2015 -- photo The Durango Herald, Shane Benjamin
A “get well soon” balloon floats in the contaminated waters of the Animas River flowing through Durango on Monday afternoon August 10, 2015 — photo The Durango Herald, Shane Benjamin

From CBS Denver:

On Friday the EPA mobilized contractors to stabilize the mine and the waste pile…

Wildlife officials shared some good news, saying their testing shows the fish survived with no evidence of die-offs. But the problems are far from over…

The spill drew attention to the thousands of abandoned mines throughout the West that may also pollute rivers.

And on Friday EPA crews returned to the mine to start work stabilizing the entrance. Here’s a report from Dan Elliott writing for the Associated Press. Here’s an excerpt:

Construction crews will return this weekend to the scene of a massive mine-waste spill in southwestern Colorado to stabilize the mine opening with steel and concrete, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Friday.

The EPA said the work is designed to keep rock and dirt from collapsing at the entrance to the Gold King Mine and to make sure it’s safe to enter during future cleanup efforts. The stabilization work will last through October…

In an email to The Associated Press, the EPA said it is very unlikely the work being done at the mine this year would trigger another spill. “The EPA has taken precautions to prevent any unanticipated discharges,” the agency said.

The contractor hired to do this summer’s work, Environmental Restoration LLC, was also on the scene at the time of the August blowout. But the EPA and outside investigators have said it was government officials, not the contractor, who made the decision to begin the work that led to the spill.

The EPA pledged to alert downstream communities if anything goes wrong this summer, using a notification plan put in place after the August blowout. The agency was widely criticized for not alerting all the tribal, state and local governments affected by the spill.

Wastewater is still running from the mine, and if the rate increases during this summer’s work, a temporary treatment plant installed last fall can handle a higher flow, the EPA said.

The $1.8 million plant went into operation in October. Officials said at the time it could handle 800 gallons per minute, while wastewater was flowing from the mine at about 560 gallons per minute.

The plant is scheduled to run through November of this year. Colorado lawmakers have urged the EPA to keep it operating, and the agency said Friday it is looking into that.

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