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The EPA may be in Congressional cross-hairs following it’s role in a Colorado environmental disaster, but an Investigation by the House Science Committee wasn’t stopping them from continuing a host of “cleanup” efforts in mines across the American west.
The EPA was duplicating its efforts at Gold King in at least ten other mines, in four states. According to officials, responding to the Associated Press, work finally stopped a couple of weeks ago, but the EPA is just now disclosing that there efforts went far beyond their work in Colorado, putting residents of California, Missouri and Montana (as well as residents of other locations in Colorado), in danger of facing the same repercussions of EPA malfeasance as residents of the Animas river valley.
Site investigations and some cleanup work at 10 polluted mining complexes in four states were suspended because of conditions similar to those that led to a massive wastewater blowout from an inactive Colorado gold mine, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials said.
The sites include three in California, four in Colorado, two in Montana and one in Missouri, according to details obtained by The Associated Press following repeated requests for the information…”We want to take extra caution before we initiate any work,” Stanislaus said of the work suspensions. Some the mines were abandoned decades ago and have grown more unstable over time, raising the risk of an accident.
The stop-work order was issued last month but officials for weeks refused to disclose specifics.
The EPA has not disclosed their reason for addressing these particular mines, nor have they specified why they targeted the Gold King Mine, particularly as the EPA was part of a community task force, which included local companies with intimate knowledge of the mine, but decided to proceed independently.
According to a report released to Congress by the Inspector General, the EPA went so far as to identify thousands of “contaminated” mine sites, but does not appear to have adequately assessed the harm these potentially hazardous situations were causing to their surrounding areas (thus prioritizing cleanup needs according to potential environmental complications). The EPA also does not appear to have assessed the potential for harm being done in the “cleanup” process. Instead, they engaged in cleanup efforts, apart from established cleanup coalitions, potentially putting thousands of people at risk. The EPA will now assess the remaining 10 mines for their “potential hazard level” and will keep the work stoppage orders in place until the sites are deemed safe for cleanup.