From US News and World Report: Colorado now faults EPA for mine spill after decades of pushing away federal Superfund help
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took full responsibility Tuesday for the mine waste spoiling rivers downstream from Silverton, Colorado, but people who live near the idled and leaking Gold King mine say local authorities and mining companies spent decades spurning federal cleanup help.
They feared the stigma of a Superfund label, which delivers federal money up-front for extensive cleanups. They worried that corporations would kill a hoped-for revival in the area’s mining industry rather than get stuck with cleanup costs. And some haven’t trusted the federal government, townspeople say.
The EPA pushed anyway, for nearly 25 years, to apply its Superfund program to the Gold King mine, which has been leaching a smaller stream of arsenic, lead and other wildlife-killing heavy metals into Cement Creek. That water runs into the Animas and San Juan rivers before reaching Lake Powell and the lower Colorado River, a basin serving five states, Mexico and several sovereign Native American nations.
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Claire B. Rubin has 39 years of experience as a researcher, consultant, and educator in the fields of emergency management and homeland security.
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