Monday, August 24, 2015

TOXIC SPILL - The Consequences

"Toxic spill causes hardship for the Navajo farmers and ranchers downstream" PBS NewsHour 8/17/2015


SUMMARY:  It's been nearly two weeks since an EPA accident at a defunct Colorado mine fouled rivers in multiple states, and among the hardest hit residents are the Navajos.  Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery reports from New Mexico.

Editor’s note:  We originally reported that the San Juan River flows into Arizona and then enters Lake Powell.  In fact, it joins the Colorado River in Utah, then flows into Lake Powell, which straddles the Arizona border.  Also, in a map of the Navajo Nation, we incorrectly illustrated the northern border, which more closely follows the San Juan River than our depiction.  We regret the errors.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  It’s been 12 days since an accident at a defunct Colorado gold mine fouled rivers in three states.

Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery has an update on the impact the spill has had on Native Americans and others in Northwest New Mexico.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY (NewsHour):  The sunflowers in Upper Fruitland, New Mexico, are drooping.

LORENZO BATES, Speaker, Navajo Nation Council:  When you look at them now, they’re all hanging over because they haven’t — they need water.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY:  On LoRenzo Bates’ farm, it’s not just sunflowers in trouble.  The alfalfa, key for feeding his animals, is stunted.

LORENZO BATES:  This is right now 12 days behind.  This hay has to get me through the winter season.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY:  Bates, the speaker of the Navajo Nation, tallied his losses so far at $1,000 in just one week, no small amount in this poor region.  It’s all because Bates and thousands of others here couldn’t pull water from the San Juan River, which abuts his land.  Irrigation ditches were shut down after the mine accident earlier this month 100 miles north in Silverton, Colorado.

Efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up one mine resulted in a breach at another, the Gold King Mine, which has been inactive since 1923.  A three million gallon toxic stew of heavy metals poured downstream, turning the Animas River a shocking yellow.

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