Sunday, August 9, 2015

Navajo Nation Braces for a Million Gallons of Mining Wastewater

The Navajo Nation was bracing on Saturday for the arrival of a neon-orange, heavy-metals-infused plume of mining wastewater that was flowing toward the San Juan River from the Animas in Colorado.

The plume, unleashed on Wednesday August 5 by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) workers assessing an entrance of the Gold King Mine in Silverado, Colorado, was flowing at one to two miles per hour, according to the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management. The tainted water reached New Mexico overnight Friday into Saturday and was headed toward the San Juan River, which flows through the Navajo Nation. The torrent is infused with heavy metals including lead, arsenic, cadmium, aluminum and copper, the EPA told attendees at a community meeting in Durango on August 7.

The tainted water will flow past at least 10 Navajo chapters and hundreds of farmers who rely on the San Juan River, the Navajo Times reported. It will ultimately end up in Lake Powell.

New Mexico officials were taking river samples as a baseline and gearing up to monitor the plume as it passed through. San Juan County officials declared a state of emergency as the Navajo Nation expressed frustration with the level of information it was receiving.


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