Three Million Gallons of Contaminated Water Turns River Orange in Colorado
The spill into the Animas River has lead and arsenic in it, the EPA says.
August 10, 2015, 2:22 PM
• 5 min read
-- The Animas River in Colorado has turned orange as a toxic spill continues to flow downstream and through to other states.
A team of workers with the Environmental Protection Agency accidentally released 3 million gallons of waste water from the Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colorado, on Aug. 5, the agency said. It was initially estimated to be a third of that size at one million gallons, the EPA said.
The contaminated water contains heavy metals, including lead and arsenic, turning the river water into a murky orange and yellow color, ABC affiliate KMGH reported.
“We are aware that there are a number of old mines that have water dams like, similar to this, and we’re going to go back through them,” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper told KMGH. “People think about Colorado for our skies and our landscapes and our rushing rivers. They don’t want those rivers to be orange.”
There is no timetable yet for cleaning up the spill, Hickenlooper said, also adding that it’s also too early to determine who should be held accountable.
The water will continue to flow through the San Juan National Forest, where the San Juan River will carry the contaminated water through Utah and eventually into Lake Powell, experts said.
It’s expected to reach Lake Powell by Wednesday, experts said.