Every day many millions of gallons of water loaded with toxic metals flow from some of the most contaminated mining sites in the U.S. and into surrounding lakes and streams without being treated.
The Associated Press has found the torrent is poisoning aquatic life and tainting drinking water sources in Montana, California, Colorado, Oklahoma and at least five other states.
The AP examined 43 mining sites under federal oversight using data from public records requests and independent researchers.
The records show that at average flows, more than 50 million gallons (189 million liters) of contaminated wastewater streams daily from the sites.
In many cases, it runs untreated into nearby groundwater, rivers and ponds, a roughly 20-million-gallon (76-million-liter) daily dose of pollution that could fill more than 2,000 tanker trucks.
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