Initial sampling shows huge spike in zinc concentrations, which could be bad news for fish
FRISCO — Engineers still have been able to completely staunch the flow of water from a mine portal near Silverton, Colorado, where a major spill sent at least 1 million gallons of polluted water surging into the Animas River.
In its Aug. 8 update, the EPA said the mine adit is still discharging approximately 500 gallons per minute, although the flow is decreasing and a makeshift treatment system of detention ponds appears to be effectively lowering the acidity of the discharge.
According to the EPA, the plume of polluted water was moving downstream at about 4 miles per hour and had reached Kirtland, New Mexico by Saturday afternoon.
“The plume has been visually diluted and the leading edge of it is far less defined. The water is reported to be muddy with an orange tinge rather than solid orange, the EPA said in the update.
Sampling data from Cement Creek and the Animas River near Silverton from Aug. 5th and 6th show pH and metals concentrations are decreasing to pre-event conditions.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials have been monitoring the effects of the spill on terrestrial and aquatic wildlife since the incident began. CPW is watching for any impacts on wildlife, whether they are acute or chronic. Fish are especially sensitive to changes in water quality. CPW is also monitoring a control station on a clean tributary.
The public will have a chance to learn more about the spill at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Sunday night (Aug. 9) at Miller Middle School Auditorium, 2608 Junction Street, Durango.
The meeting will be live-streamed on the web and the link to listen will be posted to the La Plata County website at http://www.co.laplata.co.us/emergency, San Juan Basin Health Department’s Website at www.sjbhd.org, La Plata County Government Facebook and San Juan Basin Health Department Facebook.
La Plata County has set up a Call Center for the public at 970-385-8700. The EPA has set up a website for the event at www.epaosc.org/GoldKingMine. Links to this site are provided on the County’s website and San Juan Basin Health Department’s website as well.