Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: More Animas Toward EPA

Related: EPA Should Have Mined Its Own Business

"EPA knew of ‘blowout’ risk for tainted water at gold mine" by Michael Biesecker and Matthew Brown Associated Press  August 23, 2015

WASHINGTON — US officials knew of the potential for a catastrophic blowout of toxic waste water from an inactive gold mine, yet appeared to have only a cursory plan to deal with such an event in place when government contractors triggered a 3-million-gallon spill, according to internal documents released by the Environmental Protection Agency.

It's the way they handle everything really important, as opposed to self-created crises set to push forward the agenda.

EPA released the documents after prodding from Associated Press and other media organizations. EPA and contract workers accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of contaminated waste water Aug. 5 as they inspected the idled Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colo.

Yeah, maybe.


There are at least three ongoing inquiries into exactly how EPA triggered the disaster, which tainted rivers in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah with lead, arsenic and other contaminants.

EPA says its water testing has shown that contamination levels have since been returning to pre-spill levels, though experts warn that the heavy metals have likely sunk and mixed with bottom sediments, and could someday be stirred back up....

It's in the eco-chain, but the water is fine! 

So what critters feed down there?

Elected officials in affected states and elsewhere have been highly critical of the EPA’s initial response. Among the unanswered questions is why it took the agency nearly a day to inform local officials in downstream communities that rely on the rivers for drinking water.

Communication problems have persisted in the spill’s aftermath, according to US Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who chairs the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

‘‘Weeks after the spill, families and businesses who depend on the Animas River continue to deal with uncertainty and limited information,’’ Smith said Friday, as he called for the EPA’s administrator, Gina McCarthy, to appear before his committee at a hearing scheduled next month.

‘‘The EPA has an obligation to be forthcoming about what went wrong.’’

Much of the text in the documents released Friday was redacted by EPA officials.

In the wake of the spill, it has typically taken days to get any detailed response from the agency, if at all.

That is where my printed copy ended, and I wrote China at the bottom of it!

Melissa Harrison, an EPA spokesman, said Saturday that the agency has been inundated with media inquiries and ‘‘worked diligently to respond to them.’’

On its website, contractor Environmental Restoration posted a brief statement last week confirming its employees were present at the mine when the spill occurred. The company declined to provide more detail, saying that to do so would violate ‘‘contractual confidentiality obligations.’’

The St. Louis-based company bills itself as the largest provider of emergency services for the EPA and is the agency’s prime contractor across most of the nation.

The EPA has not yet provided a copy of its contact with the firm. On the March 2015 cost estimate for the work released Friday, the agency blacked out all the dollar figures.

The spill’s aftermath has cost the EPA $3.7 million through Thursday, according to information provided by the agency.

To deal with the toxic water from the mine, which continues to flow out of the site, the EPA built a series of containment ponds so that contaminated sediments can settle out before the water enters a nearby creek that feeds into the Animas River. 

EXCUSE ME?!!!! I was told contamination levels were returning to pre-spill levels!

The agency said more work was needed to make sure there are no additional reserves of tainted water inside Gold King that could lead to another surge of contamination. Those efforts will include the removal of any blockages inside the mine that are holding back water, according to the EPA.


That work is ongoing and no timetable has been provided for its completion.


I don't blame people for having animus toward the EPA!

Now for that other hole getting filled:

"Dangerous storage of chemicals widespread in China" by Patrick Boehler New York Times  August 23, 2015

HONG KONG — Thousands of dead fish washed up on a riverbank near the site of the explosions last week. White foam filled the streets during the first rainshower after the blasts. Residents and relatives of those killed have taken to the streets in protest, demanding to know how a hazardous storage site could be so close to their homes.

The sodium cyanide stored at the warehouse was produced in a factory 200 miles west of Tianjin. Chinese news media reported a foul smell in the air near that factory, and residents said they had found white foam in the ground water. Some complained of headaches.

The company, Hebei Chengxin, is one of the largest makers of the toxic substance in Asia. Its sprawling facility is close to a primary school with up to 700 students and staff members. Company officials could not be reached for comment.

The plant’s apparent violation of the distance rules reflects China’s difficulties in enforcing safety standards during a time of rapid industrialization.

In May, the Ministry of Environmental Protection issued draft guidelines for improving environmental protection in industrial parks, noting that some had “expanded recklessly.” Such parks “create serious pollution and severe environmental hazards that are affecting social harmony and stability,” the guidelines warned.

The Chinese are so concerned about social harmony. I wish my government was. They seem to be the exact opposite, ripping open division whenever they can.

On Friday, Greenpeace said it had identified warehouses for hazardous chemicals at four other major port cities: Shanghai, Guangzhou, Ningbo and Qingdao. All are near residential areas.

Several other facilities across China that produce or store sodium cyanide and other hazardous chemicals appear to violate distance regulations, putting nearby residents at risk of toxic exposure....


You can contrast that cover story with this:

Tianjin’s Fiery Explosion: A Tale of Two Causes - Mainstream Media’s Accident by Corruption vs. Independent Media’s Nuke or Rod-of-God Attack by Pentagon

I would take my hat off and look around some more if I were you.

Back here:

"A series of wildfires in north-central Washington that left three firefighters dead grew by more than 100 square miles in a day, but officials were hoping that easing winds will allow them to gain the upper hand. The wildfires were measured at 355 square miles Saturday. Thousands of people remained under evacuation orders as strong winds drove flames. Officials planned to provide basic fire training to about 200 volunteers."

Wait until you see who are the volunteers:

"Some of the firefighters on the ground are following a family tradition, emulating their parents or a favorite uncle. Many are college students who need money, find they like the work, and eventually become leaders on fire crews, said Joe Smillie, a spokesman for Washington’s Department of Natural Resources. ‘‘It’s a lot of people who love the place, who love protecting it, and it’s a great way to spend the summer,’’ Smillie said. ‘‘It gets passed down almost as a summer tradition in a lot of families,’’ he said “Around the camps, you see a lot of children and grandchildren of some of our older firefighters.’’ The wages are often about $12 to $18 an hour, and with long days, the pay can add up, he said."

Seems like they should get a hell of a lot more.

Oh, well. Time to hit the beach!

"In one of its first acts to address climate change, the Baker administration awarded more than $2 million in grants to 15 coastal communities on Friday to reduce their vulnerability to rising seas, erosion, flooding, and increasingly powerful storms. The aid follows $5 million in similar grants to coastal cities and towns awarded during the Patrick administration. “With these programs and others, we will ensure that Massachusetts continues to be a leader in addressing climate change,” Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said in a prepared statement." 

Also see: Sinking $eaport


Smoke clearing in Wash. wildfire

That's good news for the pandas, and don't you worry about the shutdown at Pilgrim(!!) or the gas pipelines we do not need.

Do you notice a big hole in the coverage today?

Also see: Officials call for help as wildfires batter West

Been pouring all morning here.