Ho hum: another day, another toxic mine spill by the EPA

Hot Air

Is this something which is fairly new in the history of our government or was there just nobody paying attention up until now? This past week there was another spill of potentially dangerous waste water from a mine in Colorado. And once again it wasn’t miners or anyone in the private sector messing up the landscape… it was the increasingly inappropriately named Environmental Protection Agency. (Denver Post)

An EPA crew working at the Standard Mine above Crested Butte has triggered a spill of wastewater into a creek.

Crested Butte Mayor Aaron Huckstep and staffers for U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton said Thursday that about 2,000 gallons of wastewater spilled late Wednesday during work at the mine.

EPA officials could not confirm the incident, and National Response Center contractors in Washington D.C. did not yet have a report of the spill. An EPA congressional liaison officer could not be reached, and EPA public information officials said they were working on a statement.

 

We might have known about this even sooner except there is yet another repeating theme playing out in the story of the Standard Mine spill. As reported by Marjorie Haun at Watchdog, the EPA seems to have mysteriously forgotten to report the incident to the home office.

“Once again the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] has failed to notify the appropriate local officials and agencies of the spill in a timely manner.” These are the words of U.S. Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in response to another toxic spill resulting from EPA activities at an abandoned mine in western Colorado.

According to the Denver Post, an EPA mine crew working Thursday at the Standard Mine in the mountains near Crested Butte, triggered another spill of some 2,000 gallons of wastewater into a nearby mountain creek. Supporting Tipton’s remarks to Watchdog Arena, the Denver Post report states that the EPA had failed to release a report about the incident at the time of its writing.

As Congressman Tipton notes, the agency isn’t exactly being forthcoming with details. The size of the spill (thankfully) seems to be significantly smaller at roughly 2,000 gallons. And if we’re lucky it’s not quite as poisonous of a mess. That’s because the waste washing out of the mine is described as being “gray water” but Tipton has a grimly humorous warning about that particular subject.

“They are reporting that the spill consisted of “gray water,” and was not toxic. But the definition of gray water does not preclude the presence of possible toxic substances.”

So it’s not toxic unless it turns out to be toxic. Got it.

I’m reminded of a piece I bookmarked at the Wall Street Journal back in August when the last spill story was playing out. The number of massive failures on the part of the EPA, both in field work and the execution of their regulatory functions, has been simply staggering. How in the world is it that nobody has been fired there yet? For that matter, we haven’t even seen anyone of significant authority being allowed to retire and “go spend more time with their family” as happened with the IRS. It’s as if none of their problems – whether it’s failures in court over their burdensome regulatory regimen or disasters out in the field – are actually their own fault. The White House seems to treat each of these occasions as if they must be the acts of a vengeful god which nobody could possibly have seen coming.

This spill, even if it’s a smaller amount of “gray water” of undetermined toxicity, went into some smaller creeks and streams where people draw water and wildlife depends on it. If they want to hold private industry to demanding standards, surely they can live up to the same. It’s long past time for some heads to roll at the EPA, but as long as Barack Obama is in office I won’t be holding my breath.

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