Monday, June 06, 2016

EPA Pollutes River, Uses Scare Tactics To Take Control Of A Colorado Town

by Ethan Barton

A decades-long battle between federal environmental officials and a small Colorado town is about to end in the government’s favor, thanks to the agency-caused Gold King Mine spill disaster, a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation has found.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representatives have focused intently on Silverton, Colorado since the mid-1990s, accumulating evidence — and sometimes using scare tactics — to persuade residents to drop their opposition to a Superfund designation for the surrounding region.

Residents surrendered to federal demands only after an EPA work-crew turned the nearby Animas River bright yellow for nearly a week by releasing a three-million-gallon flood of acidic mine waste under extremely questionable circumstances in August 2015.

Suspended in the flood was 880,000 pounds of toxic metals, including lead and arsenic, that poured into the river that supplies drinking water for people living in three states and the Navajo Nation. The mine is just upstream from Silverton.

...The disaster was the last straw that convinced locals to reverse their decades-long opposition and allow the EPA to go forward in designating the region for Superfund listing – a designation the agency reserves only for the nation’s most polluted sites.

Once the designation becomes official, EPA will assume vast new powers throughout the region. But EPA has been encroaching on residents’ lives going back to at least 1994, with more than a few memorable episodes along the way.

...How EPA has used Superfund authority against Silverton exemplifies the inability of local residents to resist the federal agency when it is determined to have its way.

The first goal of the Animas River Stakeholders Group that was formed in 1994 to protect the environment from abandoned mines was to “keep CERCLA out.” The EPA not only blocked accomplishment of that goal, it also thwarted local efforts to cleanup the region’s environment.

“It definitely has taken the wind out of our sails,” group official Peter Butler told The Denver Post in May. “It’s uncertain what the Animas River Stakeholder Group’s future will be.”

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