Utah Native Plant Society

The posts contained herein may not always necessarily represent the official positions and views of the Utah Native Plant Society and are mine alone; nonetheless, this blog is intended to largely supplement the Utah Native Plant Society web site and has similar goals and objectives and when I think my slant about something is perhaps either controversial or straying from what might be generally supported by UNPS, I will try to so indicate since I am also the webmaster for the UNPS web site, a former UNPS board member, conservation co-chair, Utah rare plants guide coordinator, and remain actively involved with day-to-day issues involving the organization. Much of the information contained here will therefore no doubt therefore relate to issues of current concern to the UNPS board and/or its members, inquires made to unps@unps.org, postings made on the UNPS listserv, and the activities our various committees are involved with (conservation, restoration, rare plant issues, invasive species, horticulture and more) and our many and various botanical connections not the least of which are the herbariums based in Utah and elsewhere, and other conservation organizations that have goals that overlap those of UNPS.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Animas spill: where the blame really lies

Despite the headline which the author probably did not write or even suggest in this article:

How the EPA managed to spill 3 million gallons of mining waste into a Colorado river (by Brad Plumer, August 10, 2015, Vox Media)

it is clear that this was simply a ticking time bomb. A mild earthquake or a weather-related landslide could no doubt have triggered this spill.   To what degree EPA was culpable in not notifying others of the spill sooner is unclear (for example, apparently the engineers working in the area had no cell phone coverage, see EPA faces criticism, praise at Silverton meeting published August 11, 2015 in the Durango Herald).

As the Plumer article indicates, the EPA has been trying to clean up the area since the 1980's and yet the town of Silverton has resisted time and time again.

A worse spill took place in 1975. The Animas River has been contaminated for a very long time.

Animas River, September 2011

While the conspiracy theorists and anti-fed folks will instead cry foul and point their fingers towards Washington DC,  what this shows are the very real and long term impacts of irresponsible mining activities and practices of the past, some of which continue; that's what the headline should say and what the text of the article supports.

When energy/mining companies are asked for reclamation or other post disturbance plans consisting of as little as say five years, look at what can happen 100+ years later. The short term gains are followed by exceptionally long term impacts that can and do jeopardize the future for all of us.  The Navajo Nation and downstream farmers should be seeking redress against the miners and energy companies that created this problem, and a local government that failed to act timely, and that stubbornly fought the cleanup at every turn, not the EPA.

Animas River, September 2011

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