By: Waterkeeper Alliance
Durango, Colorado and New York, NY – Yesterday’s spill of one million gallons of wastewater from an abandoned mine into the Animas River, a tributary of the Colorado River, has prompted on-the-ground action by local and national environmental groups.
The Animas River has been turned a bright orange from the toxic wastewater. Officials are not aware of what toxins or how much of them are in the water, and have closed access to the public. Independent sampling has begun and concerned local groups are coming together to take a close look at the impacts and understand them.
“We’re in the process of assessing what exactly we’re dealing with here,” said Aaron Kimple, Program Director, Mountain Studies Institute in Durango, Colorado and founder of Animas Riverkeeper. “As soon as we heard about the spill, we began sampling and testing for water quality and invertebrates and continue to take samples every two hours. We will be looking at both pre and post sampling results. We do know that the river is carrying a lot of sediment that can deposit heavy metals with the potential to create impacts years down the road.”
Lesley Adams, Western Regional Coordinator at Waterkeeper Alliance, added: “We, like many others, are concerned about the impacts of this tragedy on the Colorado River watershed. Water diversions, pollution and drought are taking a heavy toll on this epic river system. We encourage people at the local level to get involved and support the San Juan Citizens Alliance water program, so that this body of water has a voice and an army of advocates fighting for its future.”
Mountain Studies Institute and Waterkeeper Alliance are working to secure money for testing the samples collected. “Once the samples are analyzed and we know what we are dealing with we can identify ways to address any impacts” stated Kimple.
Photo credit to JERRY MCBRIDE/THE DURANGO HERALD/PRESS ASSOCIATION/AP