As Native American tribes are struggling to cope with a toxic spill caused by an Environmental Protection Agency contractor that turned a river in Colorado orange, a letter from a retired geologist has emerged, that warned of the risk a week beforehand.
A contractor for the EPA released some three million gallons of toxic mining sludge on August 5 while attempting to clean up an abandoned mine near Silverton, Colorado. The waste flowed into Cement Creek, and has since contaminated the Animas River, San Juan River, and the Colorado River in Utah.
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe in southern Colorado has declared a state of local emergency. Their 1,059-square-mile reservation was the first to be hit by the spill, a 100-mile-long stream of mining waste containing lead, copper, and arsenic. Classifying the spill as a disaster enables the release of aid and recovery funds.