How often do we see sad stories such as this in the news? Evil industrialists carelessly create a swath of damage across our pristine natural resources through pollution and reckless destruction. Another such event took place in Colorado this week when millions of gallons of toxic, metal laden waste water were dumped into a local stream, feeding into the local river system used by swimmers and fishermen. And the culprit for this horrendous act was… the Environmental Protection Agency.
A team of U.S. regulators probing contamination at a Colorado gold mine accidentally released a million gallons (3.8 million liters) of orange-hued waste water containing sediment and metals into a local river system, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday.
The waste water that had been held behind a barrier near the abandoned Gold King Mine spilled on Wednesday into Cement Creek, which flows into the Animas River in San Juan County, EPA spokesman Rich Mylott said.
Several workers were in the EPA crew that was using heavy equipment to pump and treat the waste water when the breach occurred, Mylott said, adding that none were injured.
Locals had to immediately be warned to shut off any intakes from the river and to suspend any water based activities. The media was on hand almost at once, broadcasting pictures of, “kayakers floating down a mustard-yellow stretch of the Animas River.”
Here’s a question for the government to consider. How much of a fine do you think the EPA should impose on itself? A farmer in North Carolina was sentenced to six months of house arrest and fined $15K for discharging water with cow feces in it into a local river. But that was just a farm. This was a mine. Well, in the Appalachian region, a coal mining outfit was fined more than $27M for discharging into rivers. Pan Am Railways was tagged with $375,000 in fines by the EPA for discharging into a river. And then there’s the granddaddy of them all… British Petroleum got nailed with $18.7 Billion in fines last month for the Deepwater Horizon spill. Obviously there’s a lot of precedent here.
Now, the EPA can certainly come back and argue that this was an accident. They were there doing their jobs and the damage was unintentional. But I have some bad news for them. Do you honestly think that BP was trying to dump millions of gallons of highly valuable product into the Gulf of Mexico just because the rig manager really hates tuna? That was an accident too, and yet they have to pay. So why not the EPA?
We should get some sort of a White House petition started. These environmental scofflaws at the EPA have had a free run for too long and gotten off easy when they destroy our lands and waterways. It’s time for them to be fined, and I know just the group to hold them accountable. We’ll have to call the Environmental Protection Agency.