Ongoing Environmental Disaster at Animas River Mine Spill, Colorado

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A plume of orange muck from a large mine waste spill in Colorado has drifted about 55 miles downriver and is closing in on New Mexico, prompting communities to take precautions until the sludge passes.

Workers for the Environmental Protection Agency used heavy equipment to enter the defunct Gold King Mine in southern Colorado on August 5, 2015 to pump out and treat contaminated water. Instead they poked a hole in the mine that caused a disastrous leak into the Animas River in Colorado. New Mexico and Utah are also affected by the leak. The Animas River flows into the San Juan River, which carried contaminants into Utah. The Animas River flows into the San Juan River at Farmington, New Mexico.

The river banks are not heavily populated, but farmers depend on the water to irrigate their otherwise dry farmland. About 750 farmers in the Navajo community around the town of Shiprock are downstream from Farmington.

Residents and farmers are also worried the contaminants could seep into groundwater.

Lead levels are reported to be as high as 12,000 times higher than the acceptable level set by the EPA. Levels for arsenic, beryllium, cadmium and mercury were also extremely high.

EPA safety crew accidentally spills more than three million gallons of waste water into the Animas River in Colorado. CNN’s Tom Sater has more.

Rust colored water continues to gush out of the Gold King Mine several days after workers inspecting the mine released 3 million gallons of water.

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