KUNM

Animas River

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It’s been almost two years since an Environmental Protection Agency contractor released millions of gallons of acid mine drainage into the Animas and San Juan Rivers. A plume of contaminants and heavy metals stained the rivers yellow and flowed from Colorado into New Mexico and the Navajo Nation.

Rita Daniels

 


Thursday marks the three-month anniversary of the Gold King Mine Spill. In August, the spill originating from abandoned Gold King Mine contaminated the Animas and San Juan Rivers. In response members of New Mexico and Colorado’s congressional delegation have announced an effort to reform federal mining regulations.

spygrandson / Creative Commons via Flickr

KUNM Call In Show 10/22 8a: 

It's fundraising week!  Instead of our usual call in program, we have selected highlights from our most compelling shows and mixed them together. These clips include lawmakers' insights into New Mexico's government, activists discussing proposed reforms and a variety of callers sharing their two cents. To put it simply, it's just good radio! 

State: EPA Misled On Spill Data

Sep 25, 2015
Courtesy Josh Stephenson, Durango Herald

The state’s top environmental regulator testified at a joint congressional hearing recently, criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency for withholding information about the Gold King Mine spill. 

Elizabeth McKenzie

Irrigation water still isn’t flowing from the San Juan River to some farms on the Navajo Nation. Two chapters voted to keep ditches shut off after the Gold King Mine spill last month. But Navajo folks around the state are reaching out to help farmers and ranchers there. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

UPDATE 8/25 at 12:30 p.m.: President Russell Begaye is awaiting soil and sediment samples from the Navajo Nation's Environmental Protection Agency before deciding whether to remove restrictions on irrigation from the San Juan River, according to spokesperson Mihio Manus. Begaye, a farmer himself who's relied on the river, met with farmers in Shiprock on Thursday, Aug. 20. 

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Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It’s been two weeks since the Gold King Mine spill closed irrigation on the Navajo Nation and officials say fields around Shiprock are beginning to die off. Farmers there want to know when they’ll be able to water their crops again.    

Biologists: Animas River Fish And Bugs Ok, So Far

Aug 18, 2015
Rita Daniels

Farmers and livestock owners are free to draw water from the San Juan and Animas rivers again after 3 million gallons of mine waste spilled into the watershed. No one knows what the long-term effects of the contamination will be on wildlife in the rivers, but biologists are tracking the spill’s impact.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Gold King Mine spill caused the shut down of San Juan River irrigation to farms on the Navajo Nation. Emergency stopgap measures aren’t quite panning out. 

Johnathan Thompson / High Country News

KUNM Call In Show 8/20 8a: The mustard-yellow plume has passed and the Animas and San Juan rivers are now open again. But how long will the toxic chemicals from the Gold King Mine spill linger? We'll find out what's being done to clean up the rivers - and ask, who should pay for it? Can mining companies be held accountable? Should the EPA pay because they triggered the spill?

We'd like to hear from you! Comment on Facebook or Twitter. 

Guests:

Rita Daniels

New Mexico lifted water restrictions on the Animas and San Juan Rivers over the weekend in the wake of a toxic mine spill in Colorado.

Water samples showed spikes in heavy metals, but state and federal officials say contaminants have been diluted and dispersed downstream.

That brought relief to farmers in San Juan County who are not on the Navajo Nation. They were given the go-ahead on Saturday to irrigate and use the water for watering livestock after the San Juan and Animas Rivers had been closed for more than a week.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Update Aug. 18, 11:30 a.m.: The EPA said the water for the Navajo Nation came from nearby Bloomfield and met state and federal quality standards. The trucks came from a division of an Aztec, N.M.-based company, Triple S Trucking, that moves non-potable water. The company also hauls fluids to and from oil fields. KUNM awaits comment from Triple S. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

SHIPROCK, N.M.—Not everyone on the Navajo Nation had heard about the Gold King Mine spill that happened more than a week ago, even though they might live along the San Juan River.

After Plume Passes, Attention Turns To Sediments

Aug 14, 2015
Rita Daniels/KUNM


Water managers in Northwestern New Mexico are trying to figure out how much contamination from the Gold King Mine spill has seeped into ditch irrigation systems. 

Rita Daniels/KUNM

Trucks delivered 200,000 gallons of water Thursday for irrigating crops in San Juan County after the Animas and San Juan rivers were closed due to contamination from the Gold King Mine spill. 

Rita Daniels/KUNM

People with domestic wells in the floodplain of the Animas and San Juan rivers are free to use their water today as of midday Friday, August 15, 2015. New Mexico lifted a ban on water use from these wells after initial tests showed no contamination from the Gold King Mine spill.

Peter Nathanson with the state’s Drinking Water Bureau said they inspected wells within 500 feet of the river where the groundwater level is higher than the river water. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

SHIPROCK, N.M.—Farmers near the San Juan are frustrated by the lack of data from the Environmental Protection Agency after pollutants were released from the Gold King Mine more than a week ago. 

Toxins traveling through the Animas flowed into New Mexico’s San Juan, but it’s not yet known exactly what’s in the river on the Navajo Nation or at what concentrations. That’s at the root of a lot of worry for farmers in Shiprock, who fear the worst for their crops.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

UPDATE, Friday, Aug. 14, 5 p.m.: The EPA says testing results from the Navajo Nation should be released on Saturday.   

EPA: River Is Bouncing Back

Aug 12, 2015
Clyde Frogg via Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons License

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has ordered agency offices nationwide to stop field investigation work for mine cleanups while they reassess the work to ensure there's no potential for spills similar to the one in Colorado.

Rita Daniels/KUNM

Communities along the Animas and San Juan rivers are still waiting on test results from the Gold King Mine spill. The first round of test results from the toxic plume’s impact on the rivers near Farmington aren't expected until Wednesday.

Private Well Owners Making Do

Aug 11, 2015
Rita Daniels/KUNM

The first results from tests of the water in northwestern New Mexico contaminated by the Gold King Mine spill are expected on Wednesday. 

Rita Daniels

KUNM Call In Show 8/13 8a:

Governor Susana Martinez has declared a state of emergency after the Environmental Protection Agency caused a massive spill of mine waste that has contaminated rivers in New Mexico and Colorado. We'll take a look at the Gold King Mine Spill: what does the pollution mean for communities, wildlife, and the watershed? 

Environmental Protection Agency

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has declared an emergency that frees up state funds to address a massive spill of wastewater from a Colorado mine into the Animas and San Juan rivers.

Rita Daniels / KUNM

State officials met with the Navajo Nation Council on Monday, Aug. 10, to talk about mine waste contamination of the San Juan River flowing through tribal land. New Mexico's top environment official had harsh words about the EPA’s lack of transparency and support. 

Rita Daniels / KUNM

The Navajo Nation Council met on Monday, Aug. 10, to talk about impacts from the more than 3-million-gallon toxic spill into the Animas River. "This is an assault on our way of life," said Delegate Amber Crotty. "This is an assault on core of who we are as Diné people."

Sascha Bruck via Wikimedia / Creative Commons License

Pollution of the Animas River was going on for over 100 years before gold and silver mining died down near Silverton, Colorado in the 1990s. So the recent 3 million gallon spill isn’t the first time the Animas River has been contaminated with mine waste.

EPA Mine Waste Spill Not Contained

Aug 7, 2015
La Plata County

Mine wastewater is still flowing into a tributary of the Animas River in Colorado after an accident on Wednesday. Environmental Protection Agency officials say they’re working to stop the contamination and now have a better idea of what exactly is in the toxic sludge.

Jonathan Thompson / High Country News

Farmington has shut off drinking water pumps from the San Juan River after about a million gallons of contaminated water from a mine spilled into the watershed upstream.