Navajo nation bears brunt of recent Animas mining spill disaster in Colorado

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We’re from the government and we’re here to help…



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The EPA should be delivering water now, should have done immediately, to those impacted… anyone know if they’ve begun to do this, to afford any remedy at all to those whose lives they directly impacted? From the EPA “Mission Statement:” “The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment,” and see that “all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work.” (


Don’t you mean “bears brunt?” I think “bears burden” seems to mean the Navajo caused the spill.


I’m so saddened by the news that once again, people who toil to simply survive have been screwed by psychotically irresponsible and callous business practices, exacerbated by bureaucratic incompetence.

On the other hand, I eagerly await Donald Trump’s opinion on the situation. I expect he’ll say that the Navajo should be sent back where they came from. After all, the ancestors of the Navajo came here without documentation or formalities, and their descendants have been getting away with this illegal residency for at least 20,000 years!


EPA didn’t create this situation, and it is impossible to say at this point the extent to which EPA was negligent. A long history of mining has left behind a nasty mess, and dealing with it will be a complex and expensive problem with a lot of uncertainties. Those who profited from creating this problem are largely gone from the scene, and those left are trying to evade responsibility. The mountain is swiss cheesed with tunnels that are incompletely mapped and it is too dangerous for anyone to go in and figure out what’s going on. The Animas River has been polluted for many decades by the toxic, metal laden acid leachate seeping out of these mines, and it seems that previous mitigation efforts have only been partly effective, and perhaps just stop-gap. The federal government is the only agency that has the resources and expertise to deal with this situation. The issue that people should be talking about in my opinion is that we still have a 19th century mining law that allows anyone to mine on federal land, and create environmental messes like this with very little liability for the long term pollution they cause.


How about those who profited from the mines, are they going to supply clean water to the Navajo? I don’t think so. If EPA had done nothing, this would have happened on its own, sooner or later, and there have been far worse spills in the past (e.g., a tailings pond dame broke in 1975). See:


That’s a fair point from the standpoint of legal responsibility, so far as the EPA is concerned, and also a good point with respect to the mine authority. And I may not have understood your meaning, but, if I were driving and a truck pushed me off the road causing me to knock a bicyclist into the ditch, I’d be out of the car helping the bicyclist instead of apologizing to bystanders while the cyclist lies in the ditch, or demanding the truck driver take care of him or her while I climb back into my car and drive on. While the EPA provides apologies and promises of investigation, people appear to be struggling without water as a direct result of their actions, whether or not they’re ultimately, hypothetically, at fault. They also have the means to render aid immediately. Also, it’s important to note that I don’t think any of us knows all the details of what’s actually going on now. I really just wanted to know whether anyone knew that EPA was taking responsibility to help in a tangible way.

I agree, those hurt should be helped; it sucks for the Navajo, and it’s a good question, whether EPA or anyone else is helping those affect. I just think there are many who want to vilify EPA, but I think they are the white hats; to re-spin your analogy, I see EPA as driving a firetruck to put out a house fire set by an arsonist, who set the fire in the process of robbing the house, when they accidentally knocked the cyclist off the road.


Of course nobody mentions the interesting part, that it was a copper mine. Mines differ wildly in their geology, depending on what is extracted.

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Why is that interesting?

Because it determines everything else. You’ll have vastly different contaminants from copper mines than from iron mines or cobalt mines or even salt mines. Without knowing the nature of the mining operation, there’s nothing much left to talk about.

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I see. I wouldn’t call that the “interesting part” of this story, but thanks for explaining.

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It’s very difficult for me to see any government agency as a “white hat” entity. I appreciate that you do, and I have no judgement about your feeling.

I appreciate your extension of the analogy, and the point is well taken. I agree with you, the EPA is not wholly responsible. But they were on the scene when the incident occurred, albeit apparently inadvertently causative, and as an agency of the federal government they have, or should have, swift access to facilities to render help. I only hope that they are indeed employing such resources and that we just haven’t heard that they are doing so, and, as you pointed out, also invoking other responsible parties (like local agencies and the original mining company or its contractors).

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For this mine those people probably were dead fifty to a hundred years ago. The problem is once you open sulfide rock it does this. If the runoff is continual the water has a small amount for a long time. If the water pools it gets more and more acidic leaching more minerals and becoming more toxic to higher animals and plants. These toxins were not exactly created by people, but by sulfide eating bacteria that have been on Earth much longer than vertebrates.


I’m going to bet they’re thinking “this time it was gold, last time it was uranium, (&$()(**!)(!!(!!()!”

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